a year in the life of a kale plant …

 

One vegetable that I always include in the veg patch is Kale. At first, many years ago, I only grew it to feed my goats and hens but gradually realised that I could eat it too. Now, apparently, it is regarded as a super-food with celebrity endorsement from Gwyneth Paltrow, and it even has its own website discoverkale.co.uk Who knew!

scarlet kale April seedling

It is an invaluable veg for use during the hungry-gap between January and March when there is little else to eat in the garden – then towards the end of March it bolts and flowers, ready to produce seed for next year’s crop. But before then you can pick plenty of leaves for meals right through the year.

Scarlet KaleFully grown - July 

These plants withstand everything the weather can throw at them and survives frost (which makes it taste all the sweeter) and being covered in snow, coming out unscathed. The only downside is that, like all members of the brassica family, it attracts pests, namely white fly and cabbage white butterflies, although they don’t seem to do as much damage to the Curly Kale, as they would, say, to Brussels sprouts.

frosted scarlet kale - 18 December 2011Frosted - December 

I grow three types, Cavolo Nero, Curly Kale and Scarlet Kale (Russian) – all three are eminently photographable, and can be included in all manner of meals. I prefer to chop it finely and steam it, or perhaps stir-fry – but it can be made into a health-giving juice or crisped in the oven, or turned into soup with butter-beans and orange.

Curly KaleSpriglets – the following March 

From a distance, huge undulating pillows of green and dusky blue. Close-up coarse, frilly leaves with a tough central rib. In the mouth roughly textured a little chewy, sweet and slightly bitter. Kale is both pleasingly humble yet vibrant and big flavoured, a forerunner of the full-headed cabbages we know today”. Nigel Slater

sunlit curly kaleBolting – following March 

From the sowing of seed in March (it germinates in a few days), to planting out in April – it stays in the veg patch for a full twelve months – and even after it goes to seed, produces little spriglets along the stem in a last ditch attempt to give you a few more dinners. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is worth giving it a go and experimenting to find a way to use it to your satisfaction – it is nothing if not versatile.

Scarlet Kale flowers Flowering – beginning of following May

As one professional grower puts it:-

“Basically, if you keep eating it, you’re just never going to die”.

  So good are it’s health-giving properties.

Scarlet Kale Flowers If you have never grown it before why not give it a go – before long I’m sure you will find it indispensable.

Comments

  1. I like to make a Tuscan potato soup that a restaurant here in the states serves. I have had to substitute fresh parsley for the kale. We hear so much about kale and I need to research how to grow it here and even if sees are available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would think using kale instead of the parsley would totally alter the taste of the Tuscan Soup - I don't see why you couldn't grow kale where you are - if you have any difficulty in obtaining seeds I could send you a packet.

      Delete
  2. Kale is definitely one of my favorite veggies to look at in the garden -- and in arrangements. Am not so fond of it on my plate or in a bowl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it is maybe an acquired taste, the young leaves probably better than the older outside leaves.

      Delete
  3. i think my comment about the recent warnings about eating too much kale didn't go through...?...so forgive me if it shows up and this is repeating myself: Google "The Dark Side of Kale" to read an article that warns about eating too much of this good veggie. this news has sent shock waves around the foodie world here in the U.S. -- where people tend to overdo things whether it be good or bad for us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I eat enough for it to be a problem but will certainly check out the article. Thanks.

      Delete
  4. I'm a kale convert too. I particularly like the Cavolo Nero type. BTW I love the word "spriglet". Is that an official one?
    Your way of showcasing this veg, with photos taken throughout the year is a good one - very informative for those who wouldn't know what to expect when.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Mark I think I made the word spriglet up or maybe I have read it somewhere and it has stuck - it does describe them beautifully though.

      Delete
  5. Amongst all my veg I've never had much success with brassicas and it has put me off growing them. This is such a shame because - as you say - Kale is perfect for this time of year when not much else is available. Your Kale looks terrific.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You ought to give kale a go Wendy I have never had any trouble with it (so far).

      Delete
  6. We gave up on kale because we always got a whitefly infestation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is one of the downsides - but it seems to wash off easily enough and disappears later in the season anyway.

      Delete
  7. I'm a fan of kale too. It is a great veg this time of year. I posted about kale as well this week. I've tried a few times to make kale crisps but they always seem to burn. I think its a fab addition to soup.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Burnt kale tastes horrible it's happened to me before now. I haven't got around to reading your blog yet this week - obviously great minds think alike.

      Delete
  8. Oooooh....I like the sound of it being a super food and really good for you. Well....what can a girl say, after such a fantastic write up I have no choice....I give it a go!!!xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear - I hope I haven't over-egged the pudding - fingers crossed you like it.

      Delete
    2. I bought some today so will get to see what it tastes like. But hey...if something is that good for you it has to be grown!xxx

      Delete
  9. I like growing kale, its usually really easy and can add some much needed colour to your plot over winter, though I have had a problem with first slugs and then pigeons eating it, but other than that they are quite straightforward. But somehow this year I've not got any in my plot and I do miss it for soups and in winter stews. I will try harder next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, perhaps it's understandable that you haven't got round to growing everything you wanted - you had a pretty full on year last year.

      Delete
  10. I have not grown Kale yet, but this year is the year, love the photos

    ReplyDelete
  11. It does seem to have become very trendy, but I've not tried it yet. I've always put it in the same bracket as cabbage, and school dinners did for that sadly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even school dinners couldn't put me off eating greens.

      Delete
  12. I've got winter broccoli on the go. Kale, swiss chard and the like are just too fibre rich for my digestion.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yesterday I went to inspect my Cavolo Nero and found one lot covered in hungry yellow caterpillars. I gave it a watering of soapy water, and now have my fingers crossed. The other 'super food' is of course Swiss Chard; essential in any garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - Swiss Chard is a must every year. Caterpillars at this time of year?

      Delete
  14. Interesting post and photos. It's something that I don't grow, mainly as I'm not that keen on it and don't really have the space. Flighty xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It makes only to grow what you enjoy eating - just hope I have enough space to fit some in this year.

      Delete
  15. I always like the look of kale and chard when I see them in kitchen gardens. They are attractive and colourful plants. We never have much luck growing this kind of plant in our heavy clay soil but yours look wonderful and I guess, taste wonderful too:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chard especially Rainbow Chard always looks great in the veg patch and Kale looks like a lovely soft duvet covering the ground.

      Delete
  16. Great images - especially the yellow flowers against the dark stems.
    I can't grow veg as we are in shaded woodland, but I do love kale.
    About 10 years ago we used to buy it from Tesco but now we can't seem to find it anywhere.
    All the best :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - it's not something you see for sale very often.

      Delete
  17. HI Elaine, thank you so much for your comment over on my blog and yes, I would love the ladybird book you have.My email address is calam711@yahoo.co.uk and if you could email me privately i will let you have my address. Anne x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll post it sometime this week Anne.

      Delete
  18. Thanks Elaine for your comment on my London Gardening blog. The kale photos here are lovely, and I am growing the curly kale this year, last year was a wash-out for brassicas but this year is better. I find the pigeons love kale so have to net it; there is a good recipe in the Winter recipe leaflet from Waitrose, for Kale, leek and potato soup which I plan to try asap. I have a few potatoes left from the autumn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have a go at that soup myself - thanks Paulina.

      Delete
  19. Congratulations of being the winner of my latest book draw! Could you please email me your address Elaine? You can reach me by email at jenc_art@hotmail.com.
    I know kale is a fashionable vegetable and I am almost embarrassed to admit how truly "unfashionable" I am, because I have never ever eaten kale! I appreciate that you made some suggestions as to how to cook it. A soup with butter-beans and orange sounds like a perfect lunch for a cold Monday morning. If I get a vegetable patch sorted this spring, it would be a fun vegetable to try to grow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jennifer - looking forward to receiving it immensley. Good luck with your veg patch.

      Delete
  20. I've recently convinced my husband to eat kale and now he wants me to grow it! It's very good sliced really thin and cooked with scrambled sausage and eggs. Paulina's soup sounds tasty, too. Thanks for this post about how easy it is to grow it. :o)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

the rise of the apple and the fall of the oak ...

Down to Earth ...

the sweet calm sunshine of September ...