It's the latest darling of the vegetable world. It's found in salads, sautées, chips, and even shakes. This cabbage family crop has been around for years, but now it's a rock star. We've always known it’s nutritious, but with newer varieties and some good PR, it's sexy, too!
Classic kale varieties, such as Starbor, feature curly green leaves. They're great in salads holding the dressing in the leaf curls.
Most gardeners are familiar with the lacinata or Italian dinosaur kale such as Dazzling Blue. The strap-like, blue-green, thick leaves hold up well in soups and sautées. Portuguese kale, such as Beira, looks more like collards. It can be eaten raw like celery or added to soups.
Some of my favorites, though, have flat, lacy leaves and red coloring. Red Russian and Olympic Red have red veins on green leaves. These make great kale chips in the oven. Red Bor, like Starbor, has curly leaves, but turns a brilliant burgundy and purple color in fall.
Plant kale now along the shoreline once the soil dries out in raised beds or containers for an early crop. Plant in other locations in a few weeks. Kale can withstand frost.
Thin the seedlings to eight inches apart and use the tender thinnings in salads. Give the plants a dose of fish emulsion fertilizer and harvest leaves as needed.
Plant kale for fall as well. Plant in June, cover with tulle or row covers to keep the cabbageworms away and let the plants grow into a three-foot-tall forest. Harvest in September once the weather cools. Cool weather makes the leaves more tender and sweeter flavored.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about unusual greens. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.