Listed below I talk about pretty well everything you need to know about Kale. It’s a pretty incredible vegetable and I think it’s one of the best ones to start growing on your own!
Growing and Harvesting
Kale is one of the most versatile and adaptable vegetables you can grow. It can tolerate both sun and shade and its ability to grow in almost any type of soil is remarkable. It is best planted in early spring as it is technically more of a “cold weather crop.” It is also a great crop to plant in late summer as most varieties can with stand frost and even snow. This past year, we were eating kale from our garden (that we planted in early September) all the way until we re-planted in mid March! To plant kale seeds, just place them in approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the soil, spaced 4 or so inches apart. Be sure to water them daily while they are in the germination phase. Once the seedlings germinate (after about 2 weeks), you can thin the seedlings so they are approximately 12 inches apart.
Your kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your palm. The best way to harvest is to start from the bottom of the plant and bending the stem away from the stalk. Do your best to harvest the leaves as close to the stock as possible. Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to avoid harvesting the “heart” (a.k.a centre) of the plant. By avoiding doing so, it allows for regrowth of leaves. Do your best to always harvest from the bottom outside first.
I can’t stress enough that kale is definitely my number 1 recommendation of what to plant if you are just starting to grow your own food – you don’t need to worry too much even if you don’t have a ton of super well cultivated soil as it really is a highly resilient plant.
There are SO many varieties of kale out there but the good news is they are all amazing! If where you live has local seeds for sale, buy them, as these seeds have been adapted to grow in your region. Below are a few of my favourite varieties:
- White Russian: great for salads and eating raw. It becomes quite soft once it’s chopped up and drizzled with a bit of dressing
- Siberian: you can find both green and purple varieties. This type has leaves that are flatter and quite tender. I like this type for both sautéing and eating raw
- Winterbor: it has dark green, frilly leaves and is one of the most common types of kale. I think this one tastes great sautéed or used along side the White Russian in raw kale salads.
- Lacinato: its leaves almost look black/ very dark green. This one can be nice to grow if you want to mix it up a little, however I find it less versatile as it’s quite tough to eat raw
Kale is apart of the cruciferous vegetable family meaning it contains amazing liver detoxifying and oxidation reducing properties. Not only this, Kale is extremely high in many essential vitamins and minerals (especially Vitamin C and K). Kale is full of antioxidants meaning it helps fight cell damage. It also is high in folate and fibre, which helps us to feel full and satiated. When grown in healthy soil, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there!
Cooking and Eating
Now for the fun part! There is SO much you can do with kale. Here are some of my top favourite ways:
- Super food “Kale Slaw” with finely chopped cabbage and onion, grated carrots and beets, with dried cranberries, and topped off with a honey mustard dressing
- Vegan Kale Caesar salad with tempeh croutons and beet bacon
- Sautéed on the side with some scrambled eggs
- At the base of any rice/ quinoa bowl with some other roasted veg and a tahini dressing
- Homemade Kale Chips with nutritional yeast, sea salt, and olive oil
- A handful added to any pasta, stir fry, or stew
One Last Tip
Finely chop your kale, massage it with your hands for 3-4 minutes, and then store it in a large container in your fridge. This makes using it in recipes SO easy as you’ll already have it on hand and prepared for use. In case your wondering, by massaging it, you activate the enzymes and help make it more digestible- a super important step when eating it raw!