Did you know kale is a super food? Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. It is a rich source of vitamins C, A, & B6, and is loaded with manganese, calcium, copper and potassium, with no fat or cholesterol. Add it to your garden for a healthy harvest!
In the fall, set out transplants or sow kale seeds about 6-8 weeks before first frost in deep rich soil. Kale will need at least 6 hours of sun per day. Enrich your planting soil with plenty of compost. Planting kale in nutritious soil will promote faster plant growth and thus provide a tender, richer crop. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8. Sow seeds roughly one-half inch deep and thin seedlings to 8-12 inches apart to provide adequate air circulation. When thinning kale shoots, however, bear in mind that larger spacing will produce larger plants, larger plants produce larger leaves and larger leaves are generally tougher. Keep soil moist and mulch to control weeds. Water when planting and during dry spells.
Don’t worry about frost harming your harvest, a light frost will only enhance the sweetness of kale. Harvest the outer leaves of kale as they are needed for salads and recipes. Young tender leaves will grow from the center of the plant. Use the young leaves for salads and keep older leaves for cooking, which will help tenderize those larger leaves. Kale will continue to produce throughout fall in the warmer sections of our area. In low lying areas or where it is colder, use floating row covers or low tunnels to extend the life of your kale. Kale will bolt (elongate) and flower in the spring. This signifies the end, and it is time to pull it up and compost the remaining plant.
Kale may be used fresh or frozen. It may be steamed or stir-fried, or used in soups, stews, omelets and casseroles. It is a tasty base for salads or can be added to sandwiches. It may be used in recipes as a replacement for spinach and collard greens. It even makes fantastic chips!
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean Kale and spin dry. Remove all the tough stems.
- Drizzle about 8 cups of leaves with one tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat.
- Place Kale leaves in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until leaves are crisp but not scorched.
- Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with generous amount of flaky sea salt.
With so many tasty options for kale and so many nutritional benefits from this super food, there’s no excuse not to add this easy-to-grow dietary wonder to your garden!