Kale is easy to grow. I can even grow it here, in zone 3, in this frosty summer. You can grow it year round almost every where. Begin harvesting the leaves just 50 days after planting for salads and snacks. New Leaves grow as you continue to harvest all summer. You can continue harvesting Kale until snow cover.
It regrows as soon as Spring thaw comes in March — sending up broccoli like shoots and fresh baby leaves that are awesome in salads. It is a biennial and will send up seed stalks in June, which mature here in August or Early September. The seed will last up to 7 years and 4 plants will give you a huge amount of seed so you can share some with friends. Plan to grow it out every 4 years and you’ll be set for life.
Kale seeds can be sprouted all winter in a jar on your kitchen counter, and add crunch and zest to your winter meals, making Kale the easiest vegetable in the world to grow.
Kale has 38% protein and is used in UK as an animal fodder — so if you have livestock, grow some for them, too. Rabbits love it — especially at kindling time. It is rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium. vitamin C and has several B vitamins. High in fibre and low in fat, its the perfect snack food.
After frost in the Fall, the starches in Kale turned to sugar and the colour deepens, to help the plant cope with the stress of freezing. If you grow your own, you can take advantage of this trait and wait for a few frosts before harvesting for drying or making Kale Chips. If you buy your Kale in the grocery store or at the Farmer’s Market, you will miss-out on this delicious change of taste — so I encourage you to plant some in a pot on your balcony, if you live in the city.
I grow Red Russian Kale, a heritage variety, with oak-leafed shaped leaves, that turn purple when the leaves have been exposed to frost. Other varieties include Siberian Kale (ruffled green leafed) , Scotch Kale (a curly leafed variety) and Thousand Head Kale, usually grown for animal fodder. You can see pictures of many heritage Kale varieties at West Coast Seeds. You’ll be amazed at the different colours and textures offered by this easy to grow vegetable.
This week in the Purple Sheep Newsletter I shared my recipe for dried Spicey Kale Chips. Here’s another way to enjoy this nutrition packed, easy to grow vegetable:
We served this delicious salad to guests this week. As I was talking to my friend. Evelyn, about how easy Kale was to grow. An enthusiastic and experienced gardener, she admitted that she’d never grown it nor tasted it. She was very surprised that she had just eaten it in the salad and said she was going to plant some this fall.
(picture coming shortly)
Kale and Strawberry Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing
Wash 1 lb. of Kale Leaves and Shake dry
Trim the long part of the stalk off the leaves. Roll the leaves in handfuls and cut with a sharp knife into fine pieces.
Wash and slice fresh strawberries (if they are out of season use frozen blueberries or dried cranberries)
Add 1/2 cup sunflower seed, quickly browned in coconut oil — add them hot to the salad and toss.
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or green onions.
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing:
zest and juice from 2 organic lemons
1/4 c. poppy seeds, soaked for 30 min in lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. maple syrup, dark
combine ingredients in your blender and blend until milky white – about 2 min. in a vita-mix. Pour over salad, toss and serve.
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What’s your favorite way to eat Kale? Share it in the comments section.
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