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Learning to Love Kale

July 26th, 2011

The first time I grew kale in the garden was 3 years ago. I planted some ‘Red Russian’ kale in my winter garden after reading Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. It overwintered beautifully, seeded down, and I’ve had an abundance of kale in my garden ever since. (seed source for Red Russian Kale: Baker Creek)

This year I also added ‘Lacinato’ Kale to my garden (seed source: Southern Exposure). The only problem is – I’m not a big fan of cooked kale. I don’t mind a few handfuls thrown into soup, but in general I have never been a big fan of cooked greens, something about the texture. I love cabbage and other brassicas, but kale has always been at the bottom of the list. I’ll keep trying different ways of cooking it.I am determined, however, to not let my dislike of specific things hold me back from eating things that are healthy and good for me. So I keep growing kale, and I keep trying different cooking methods.

Kale is a member of the brassica family along with: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, arugula, rutabaga, radish and mustard. Along with other brassicas, kale is a powerhouse vegetable. It provides more nutritional value per calorie than almost any other food around. It contains over 45 different flavanoids, vitamins A, K, C, magnesium, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, and many more. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, macronutrients, and cancer-preventive nutrients called glucosinolates. Cooked kale is healthier than raw kale, so it’s important to cook it lightly and with some fat to make the vitamins more available and more easily absorbed. Here’s a great article on the health benefits of kale if you’d like to learn more. Kale is also easy to grow in the garden, especially here in NE Ohio where our summers can be fickle and can easily cause broccoli and cauliflower to bolt before them produce heads. Kale seems not to mind the warm weather, although it’s flavor is mellowed by frost and cool weather. Kale overwinters beautifully without any protection at all. I have had Red Russian kale growing in my front flowerbed for the past three years. It survives the winter, flowers in spring, seeds itself down and I have a nice crop for harvesting throughout fall, winter and spring.

Last week we had kale braised in bacon grease with garlic with eggs poached on top. It was pretty good, not my favorite food, but that’s OK – sometimes eating is about nourishing yourself and not about loving what you eat. I hope that someday I will love kale, but I’m not sure that will happen. Another way I’ve discovered that’s pretty good is to make a very garlicky chicken stock and throw lots of kale in about 5 minutes before you’re going to serve it. I’ve also got a batch of kale kimchi brewing at the moment and we’ll see if we like that as much as cabbage kimchi.

How do you feel about cooked greens? Any great recipes to share? Do you grow anything in your garden that you’re not particularly fond of eating?

Winter Flowers

October 29th, 2008

Even though this is my first year for having them in my gardens, I’ve always been a huge fan of flowering kale. I bought 2 plants at the farmer’s market earlier this summer. Next year I’m hoping to buy a packet of seeds so I can tuck them in throughout the gardens. They’re just so interesting, and they get prettier and prettier the colder it gets. They’re a great way to add some color and interest to a fall & winter garden. I’m super excited to see how my plants change throughout the winter.

I only have 2 colors, the greenhouse I went to in October had all different kinds and sizes. They had some giant white ones that were fantastic. I’ll have to decide what kinds I want next year and order some seeds. Seedman has a HUGE selection, now I just have to decide which ones I want.


I love how they hold dew on the ends of the leaves. They just glisten on a cold sunny morning. I suppose if I got out on a really cold morning there will be ice on the ends instead of dew.

Do any of you have flowering kale in your gardens?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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