The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Thursday, August 9, 2012

FARM GIRL'S CORNER - Hailin' some autumn kale!

Hi! Farm Girl here, you know what I do. I out help around the garden and shed as need be. Today, Uncle Mac had the idea that since we were about to plant our fall kale perhaps we should practice dibblin' first. I might have demurred but he was between me and the door and the hay bales were right there so, eh! A little practice never hurts!

But kale really is the topic of the day, and what better vegetable to start for a fall crop. Time really is winding down for much more planting in many zones but there is still time for short growing season, cool weather loving favorites such as radishes, white turnips and of course, kale.

Kale is a member of the Brassica genus, a group of plants collectively known as cruciferous veggies and containing cabbages, broccoli, collards, rutabagas and many other common and quite familiar vegetables. Kale is most closely related to cabbage and may be ancestral to it although the two plants neither taste nor physically resemble each other to any great degree. Kale is believed to have been gathered from pre - literate times and first cultivated in the middle east, spreading gradually around the Mediterranean as traders exchanged kale seeds for other desirables.

Kale is easy to grow. When planting for a fall crop pick a bed where other brassicas were not cultivated during spring and summer for best results and maximum production. Kale follows beans, cucumbers or summer squash quite well. Prepare the ground with generous amounts of screened compost, toss in any leftover fertilizers you do not wish to keep over winter and you are good to go.

Count back 8 weeks from the first anticipated hard frost in your area and make the first planting. Allow for a good 12 inches between the centers of each mature plant, kale will grow to larger proportions than many people realize. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.

Subsequent plantings at 7 and 6 weeks pre frost assures an abundance of this tasty vegetable. The frost date need not be feared by the way. Kale is quite resistant to it and will continue to grow through a series of mild frosts. Most kale lovers feel a frost or two merely enhances kale's somewhat strong flavor.

Weed and water and you can expect to be enjoying kale as early as five weeks depending on variety and weather conditions!


Kale dishes of greater or lesser complexity abound but the simplest and often the best use is simply to steam to tenderness and serve with a little butter and salt as a vegetable side. In this form it goes well with almost any meal.

Those who like a more complex blend of flavors or who cringe at the words "salt" and "butter" might like to try this excellent suggestion from the good folks at Ingredients Inc. Lemon kale with walnuts sounds pretty good to us and is absurdly easy to prepare. Check this excellent recipe out, right HERE.

Kale has a secret. Not only is it easy to grow and prepare, but it has turned out to be one of the very healthiest vegetables to consume. Kale is rich in calcium, B-6 and magnesium and is a veritable powerhouse as a source of vitamins A, C and K. Kale is loaded with antioxidizing phytonutrients and compounds like caratonoids, flavonoids, lutein and zeaxthin. These latter substances are useful in cancer prevention, lowering the "bad" cholesterol, and promoting healthy vision. This is one healthful veggie! 

And that wraps up our section on kale! You have the room, you have the time. Now go out and plant some of this fast growing, super healthful tasty green. Don't forget your dibble and as always, thanks for stopping by at Farm Girls Corner!


Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Mac, no wonder you and Farm Girl look so healthy! Kale is full of those secret vitamins! Great pics too! said...

I'm convinced. I'm going out there right now--okay after the rain stops-- and plant some. They look beautiful!

Anonymous said...

It's certainly amazing in my power drinks! Pinned it for you, friend - on 2 different boards too :) Have a great day, Mac!

Christy B said...

Farm girl and kale - good combo hehe!

Unknown said...

Would this be a good plant to start this time of year? I have a raised brick bed that sits in front of our house that I was thinking about planting some in. Seattle, WA.

Mac Pike said...

Sean, your difficulty in growing veggies in Seattle is the cold, rainy weather, BUT you specifically mentioned a raised bed, and that will drain much better than a flat garden plot. Why not start some kales seeds in pots as soon as possible, a think about transplanting in mid to late March? Kale is wonderfully cold tolerant.

Let us know how it works out for you.

You are entered in the drawing, btw.

Unknown said...

Fantastic! Thanks for the response and news!

I am planning on starting them indoors this week. I started my Peppers and Heirloom Tomatoes last weekend (giving broccoli a shot as well). I have been debating between raised beds and in ground planting for the rest of my garden as this is the only raised bed that I have.