2012 Harvest

2012 Harvest

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Planting Kale

After hearing year after year how great my brother's kale has done, I decided it was finally time to give this underrated vegetable a try. I've only ever eaten kale a handful of times, but as I've found in all other instances, my consumption and preference for a particular veggie goes way up after I've grown them myself. There may not be any noticeable difference in taste, but there is just something special to eating food that you've not only prepared in the kitchen, but spent weeks and months nurturing as it grows. Hopefully the same will hold true for my experience with kale. If nothing else, more kale for my brother to eat. The variety of kale we are trying this year is called Dwarf Blue Curled Kale.

Planting the Seeds

Add Leaf Compost
Kale plants can get fairly large and require around 12-18" spacing. I dug small holes that were about 4" deep, 6" wide, and spaced 15" on center. For any vegetable I grow by seed, I like to add a bit of leaf compost to the soil prior to planting. This is certainly an unnecessary step, but I find it much easier to plant seeds at the proper depth using leaf compost and considering I can buy it for $10 a truck load, it hardly adds any cost to the process.

Kale Seeds

Kale seeds are not nearly as small as many other leafy vegetable seeds and because of their round shape, they are much easier to handle. The seeds should be planted around 1/2" deep and will begin to sprout in about 7-10 days.

Growth and Care

Kale is an extremely hardy vegetable that can tolerate a wide variety of climates. It does best in cooler weather, but unlike many leafy vegetables, it can tolerate some heat as well. Higher temperatures tend to make kale taste more bitter, so we will mulch our plants with a nice layer straw to help maintain proper soil moisture and temperature, as well as prevent weeds from growing. Make sure your straw does not have any noticeable seeds... We have made that mistake before in the past and instead of preventing weeds from growing it looked like we planted grass everywhere.

Kale Sprouts

Harvesting Kale 

Individual kale leafs can be picked throughout the growing season, but a full harvest will generally take 60-75 days to mature. Once the plants are full grown, they can be harvested by cutting the stem at the base of the plant. This will not be the end of the kale however, as new shoots should begin sprouting near the base.

Kale is not the most often vegetable used in our kitchen, but my favorite way to prepare kale is stir frying it with some bacon and garlic (what doesn't go good with bacon and garlic). The stems of kale can taste somewhat bitter, so it's best to remove the stems prior to cooking. Here are some other great recipes that use kale.