Us oldies haven’t quite yet embraced trendy kale. It is often regarded as ‘hipster fad food’ or the nutritionist’s dream. We scorn kale chips or kale smoothies, we are sticklers for traditional veg; pure, simple and unadulterated. Yet you may be surprised to learn that kale has been around for a long, long time. Kale originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor where it was cultivated for food 2000 BC. Curly-leaved varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat-leaved varieties in Greece in the 4th century BC. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales.
The Greeks and Romans were probably not baking kale chips and wearing kale panties, but they planted gardens full of the dark, leafy green. It is complex, sweet, nutty, and earthy all at once. Try it blanched, steamed, sautéed, melted in soups, chopped raw into salads, or layered into lasagna.
It has a long harvesting time, it packs a punch in nutrients; is full of iron and tiny phytonutrients. Also contains lots of fibre, so vital for digestion. To prolong your harvest, snip the outer leaves when they are 10 -15cm long, and you’ll have plenty of tender, new growth in the center. Amend your soil well before planting, and as each plant grows, trim droopy or yellowing leaves.
Kale is usually an annual plant grown from seed, It is hardy and thrives in wintertime, and can survive in temperatures as low as –15° Celsius.
- Plant kale in full sun and keep soil moist, but not soggy
- Kales thrives in containers or in the ground
- Plant throughout the growing season to keep the harvest coming, plant in early spring and harvest, plant a second crop in late summer