Monday, January 25, 2016

KALE





Kale has been grown in Sitka far back into the past. It sure has grown in popularity the past few years. And, no wonder! 
  • Kale is a nutrient rich superfood. 
  • Kale prefers cool, damp weather. It grows happily in our climate. 
  • Best of all, kale overwinters regardless of weather conditions! If you start some kale around midsummer, you can go out to your garden and harvest your kale all the way through winter and on into spring! Tough plants! 
Most kales are biennial meaning the plant will flower and go to seed in its second year before dying away.


We have grown quite a few varieties of kale in our gardens. The three varieties we have relied on most years are:
  • SIBERIAN
  • NERO DI TOSCANA (also known as LACINATO or DINOSAUR)
  • RED RUSSIAN








SIBERIAN KALE
SIBERIAN KALE FULL GROWN IN THE FALL GARDEN 


Siberian kale is delicious added to salads when young and tender. It holds up very well through winter both in flavor and quality. Grown outdoors, a floating row cover seems to be all it requires for a little protection through winter. Just the other day, this is late January, I went out and picked a bunch of fresh leaves to add to our fruit smoothies. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet. 



We have also enjoyed this kale in stir fries. And, it is delicious lightly steamed and drained with a little soy sauce and lemon. Try including 2 or 3 cups of stem free, steamed and drained kale in a blended, creamy potato onion soup.
SIBERIAN KALE LEAVES PICKED FROM THE GARDEN IN JANUARY










NERO DI TOSCANA KALE
also known as 
LACINATO, DINOSAUR or BLACK PALM


This dark green, long-leafed kale is a favorite when steamed, drained, chopped and added to soups and stews. Dinosaur kale is cold hardy and tastes even sweeter after the the first frost. It is also the kale I choose most often when making 

                               KALE CHIPS
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pick about 4 cups (packed) of kale leaves.
  • Rinse off kale leaves, spin off water and remove stems.
  • Toss leaves in a large bowl with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the leaves are well coated.
  • Place on a cookie sheet or baking pan and roast 5 mins.
  • Flip the kale leaves over and roast for 5 or so more minutes until the kale leaves start to look brown and crispy.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings or salt. Enjoy!









RED RUSSIAN KALE
RED RUSSIAN KALE IN THE FOREGROUND

It was many years ago at a garden conference in Juneau that a man named Cliff Lobaugh got me hooked on kale. Cliff said to the collection of people in his audience, "Let's take a break." Then he set out a huge container of red russian kale/french sorrel pesto along with a tray of all kinds of crackers. We all stuffed our faces.
        

       RED RUSSIAN KALE/FRENCH SORREL PESTO
  • 3 cups of chopped red russian kale
  • 1 cup of french sorrel
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of nuts, preferably pine nuts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of chopped leeks or onions
Whiz all of the ingredients together in a food processor until it looks a little chunky, but not pasty. 
No cooking involved.
Freezes well.


Cliff told us that in early winter he would pick all of his red russian kale, put it in a big plastic bag and store it outside his house in the cold to be utilized throughout the winter.








PLANTING KALE

Early in May, prepare a garden bed outdoors for kale. 

We like to gather a bunch of seaweed that includes a spattering of herring eggs from the high tide line of a beach after the herring spawn. Seaweed often breaks free and washes up collecting at the high tide line after a bout of bad weather. We turn or till this seaweed into a patch of fertile soil. 



We shovel it up into raised beds.



  • Plant individual kale seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, about 4 inches apart. I simply take a seed between thumb and forefinger, push it into the soil and release. Some years, if I am growing a large bed of kale, I will carefully sprinkle or broadcast the seeds on top of the bed hoping the seeds will land about 4 inches apart. I then take a rake and gently rough some soil over the seeds. 
  • If you are planting more than one variety, remember to label each variety. 
  • Once you have all of the seeds planted, gently water with a hose, if it is not raining. 

  • Cover your bed of kale with a floating row cover.


Kale is not really bothered by any garden pests, but a row cover will increase the soil temperature. The extra heat will promote good growth and healthy plants. 


  • Be sure to water regularly unless it is raining. Watering can be done without removing the floating row cover.  


  • As the plants grow, thin them to about 12 inches apart. Enjoy the leaves from the pulled plants as an addition to a green salad.


  • If you want your kale plants to continuously produce sizable leaves for eating throughout the season, harvest and eat the lower and outer leaves regularly.


Depending on the size and health of the kale plants you started in May, you might want to start another bed of kale late July for use throughout the winter.





PERENNIAL KALE
Territorial Seed Company now advertises a perennial kale named KOSMIC KALE. Think I will have to try it!!!


The perennial kale named SEA KALE is already a most welcome plant in our gardens. Read about it in the post on this blog named PERENNIAL VEGETABLES:
http://sitkavores.blogspot.com/2015/03/perennial-vegetables.html

























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