Kale – The Darling of Health Food Enthusiasts
It has long been known that kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables. Strangely, kale hasn’t found its way onto many kitchen tables as often as it should. It’s a bouquet of frilly, thick bluish-green leaves. Like spinach, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. For health food enthusiasts, kale is blended with carrots and spinach to create a healthy quick energy drink. There are several varieties of kale, one of which has red leaves. Kale has a distinctive flavor unlike other greens. The flavor of kale is reminiscent of cabbage without the strong cabbage taste. Kale is very easy to grow and is found in many home gardens.
How to Grow Kale
Kale, like cabbage, tolerates cool weather well. In fact, kale has been known to survive the first autumn frost without appreciable damage. It can be planted early, harvested multiple times during the growing season and then, produce several bumper crops. Avoid picking the core leaf in the center of the plant. This will encourage bumper crops.
Plant kale in loam soil in early spring through the last days of autumn in full sun. Plant kale seeds a half inch deep and allow for eight to ten inches of space between plants. Kale germinates in about two to three weeks. When seedlings reach two inches in height, they can be separated and placed in long rows. Fertilize at the time of planting. Use 5-10-10 strength fertilizer to promote stable growth. Keep the soil around the plant from becoming compacted by mulching. Water regularly. Avoid over-watering. This will turn the leaves yellow and rot the root system.
Throughout its growth phases, pick young kale leaves to be eaten raw. To make health drinks, select larger, older leaves. Kale is ready for harvesting when it has reached about six inches in length and four inches in width. Pick no more than four or five leaves from the plant at a time, leaving the central leaf for continued growth. Some gardeners find kale has more flavor after it has been exposed to an early frost. Certain varieties of kale are highly tolerant of frost and can be harvested into winter. It can also be planted before the last frost in spring.
Insects and disease
Protect kale from beetles, aphids and other insects with a light dusting of insect repellent as recommended by the local garden center or nursery. Kale is relatively disease-resistant.
Enjoy Kale Many Ways
As kale begins to grow in popularity, it’s finding its way into soups and side dishes. It combines well with herbs and other greens in salads. Kale’s bluish-green color adds a contrast to other ingredients in recipes. It can be chopped fine, shredded or diced and added to omelets or sautéed with crunchy vegetables like cardoons, broccoli or celery. Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, and the reward is a successful harvest year after year.