I love kale! What is there not to love? They are an all round leafy plant – there when you need a perfect snack with a glass of wine or as a delicious additive to a stew, or salad.
There are 5 main groups of kale named for the type of leaves – green or red curly (pictured below), plain leaved, Cavolo Nero or black kale, leaf and spear (a hybrid of curly leaved and plain leaved Kale) and the ubiquitously named Hungry Gap kale. Presumably this vege was the only thing growing through a hard winter. There is also the Red Russian which is sweeter.
Kale is a beautiful addition to your garden all year round. The dark green or purple curly leaves add interest and contrast to other plants and flowers. You can plant kale out in between other herbs like oregano and thyme and flowers like calendula or native daisies.
They are easy to grow. Follow the steps on growing kale from seed and plant out to a garden bed or pots once they reach about 5 cms high. Depending on the varietal, it will take between 45 and 60 days to mature and you can start harvesting the lower outer leaves. Kale is a biennial and although very hardy it is sweetest when grown through winter. If you are planting out to grow it through summer, place it where it will get some shade. Kale does not like to be planted near tomatoes, beans or strawberries.
Keep your kale well composted every 4-6 weeks and mulched as it prefers the soil damp but not wet. The leaves will then be sweeter and more prolific.
I mainly grow black kale as I love making kale chips. Just carefully strip the leafy bits from the crunchy stem and wash them. (Stems can go to your wormfarm) Pat dry and sprinkle some olive oil over them. Rub into the leaves all over, but not dripping. Pre-heat an oven to 160C, place the oily leaves on some aluminium foil on a baking tray. Bake for 10 mins, flip and move them around a bit and then bake for another 10 mins. You will have perfect kale chips to offer your friends or scoff them all by yourself!
Green or red curly kale are great for chips as well, but are usually used for adding to soups or stews. When the leaves are young they can be added to salads too. Red Russian is delicious sauted with tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic.
Let us know how you go and maybe share your favourite recipes with us as well!