I am a big fan of Kale -it is great in smoothies, it makes great Kale chips and it is lovely in Colcannon.It looks attractive in the garden and is a superfood so we all should try growing kale.That’s because the vitamins offered by just one cup of this relatively little-known veggie can trump a whole week’s worth of other foods: 684% of the daily value of vitamin K, 206% of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A, and 134% of vitamin C (and even more vitamin C in the Scottish curly-leaf variety).
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Why should you try Growing Kale?
You shouldn’t be without kale for a whole host of reasons. First, it suffers less from pests than most brassicas. While kale isn’t immune from pests, it appears much less attractive to the caterpillars. The curly-leaved varieties withstand the cabbage white butterfly’s attention best, probably because its leaves make it harder to lay eggs.
The benefits don’t stop there. Decorative and pest-resistant, kale needs very little attention, is very hardy, and actually, improves in taste with frost. Plants can be harvested almost continuously (growth does slow down in the cold and dark months) We have 8 plants which give our family of 4-ish a great supply. They last throughout the winter, produce leaves early in the spring and when they eventually start to produce flower buds, these too can be eaten before they open, like broccoli.
The only places you can’t grow Kale is hot climates. Not a problem for us here in Ireland kale prefers cooler temperatures of 60-70°F, 15-21°C. Although it will tolerate drought and hot weather, both will affect its quality and can encourage bolting.
It does, however, tolerate partial shade and, if you do live in a hotter climate, you may like to try it in shadier spots, but heat can make kale taste bitter and collards are recommended for warmer areas.
The Nutritional Benefits of Kale
Kale has been compared to beef, which is known as a “go-to” food for iron, protein, and calcium. Kale’s anti-inflammatory capabilities are unrivalled among leafy greens, especially relating to the prevention and even reversal of arthritis, heart disease, and several autoimmune diseases.
|Calories from Fat||6|
|Total Fat||1 g||1%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates||10 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g||8%|
|Vitamin A 303%||Vitamin C||200%|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Chart From FOOD FACTS
How to grow Kale
Varieties suitable to grow in Ireland and the UK:
Black Magic – a dark green almost black colouration, straplike deeply wrinkled leaves, ideal for adding texture and a peppery flavour
Reflex – A dark-leaved, intensely-curled, fully winter hardy variety which stands well without yellowing and can be picked in summer as tasty ‘baby’ leaves
Scarlet Inject some colour into your veg garden with these purple to crimson leaved kale plants, their curled leaves are ideal for adding texture to any dish, very hardy
Red Russian -frilled green leaves with a purple midrib, as baby leaves these look great in salads and add a fresh texture to a normally limp salad
When to grow:
Normally kale can be sown from April to late-June. You can even sow in March provided it is under cloches, frames or fleece. For all varieties it’s a good idea to make successional sowings, allowing you harvest continually while the veg is young and tender. In Autumn you can pick up plants to transplant into the garden from your local Garden Centre.
Where to grow, and soil conditions required:
Kale will grow in almost all conditions. Although it can tolerate shade it will, of course, do much better in a sunny spot. Shelter from the wind is also beneficial. For a really good harvest, you should try to avoid growing in soil that becomes waterlogged or conversely dries out rapidly. Also, Kale can be grown in pots if you are short on space.
Relative acidity or alkalinity (Ph) required:
Kale doesn’t grow very well in a strongly acid or strongly alkaline soil. Most essential vegetable nutrients in the soil are soluble and available for use at pH levels of 5.5 to 7.5. Most vegetables grow best within this range, as is the case with kale where 7.0 is about optimum.
If the pH (relative acidity or alkalinity) of your soil is not suited to the vegetable, then soil nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, iron, boron, copper, manganese and zinc start to become unavailable, leading to poor crops. You can use a simple home soil test available through Amazon or most garden centres to determine your soils ph. By taking account of the test results you can then decide how much if any amendments are required to bring the to pH of your vegetable garden soil in line.
If sowing into the ground, rather than in pots, sow thinly about a half inch deep (1 cm), in rows six inches (15 cms) apart. As they grow, thin to around 3 inches (7.5 cms) apart.
Transplant when the seedlings are around 4-6 inches (10-15 cms) tall. Place them 14-20 inches (35-50 cms) apart in rows 18 inches (45cms) apart. Bury the stems up to just below the level of the lowest leaves. Tread the soil down around the base of plants firmly.
Harvesting Your Kale
Start harvesting when the plant is around 18 inches (45 cms) high and has reasonably sized leaves, but you could start earlier for salads and stir-fries. Take a few leaves at a time from each plant. If you remove the head which you can normally do in late autumn, then side shoots start to develop. These are great when eaten young, about 5 inches (12cms) long.
Enjoy you Kale in stir-fries and try it the Italian way, steam your kale leaves until tender, then in the last minute or two of cooking add a dash of olive oil, some crushed garlic, breadcrumbs, and a grating of Parmesan cheese. I also have this tasty Fabulous Gluten free Kale and Mushroom Pasta.you can try.
Or make simple and nutritious Kale chips
Quick and Healthy Kale chips
- 1 bunch kale
- Nonstick cooking spray
- ½ tsp. Pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare your kale, remove and discard thick stems, and tear leaves into large pieces.
- Spread leaves in single layer on 2 large cookie sheets.
- Spray leaves with nonstick cooking spray to coat lightly; sprinkle with salt.
- Bake kale 12 to 15 minutes or just until kale chips are crisp but not browned.
- Cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.
I hope you try growing Kale in your garden is is such a wonderful cool season crop. If you are looking for more growing guides check out my Gardening Page
Or try these posts
- Growing Cauliflowers in the Back garden
- How to grow organic Cabbages all year
- Autumn Planting soft fruits
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