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This is the first year I tried to grow Kale. I wrote about planting this fine Kale in my post: The Great Fall Garden Transformation, but little did I know what joy this wonder plant would give me.
There is a Kale craze sweeping the nation and for good reason. This super food is packed with nutrition – some even call it a plant healer.
Consider all these amazing traits:
- 9 essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within the human body—-histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine (not unlike how the protein in meat works)
- 1 gram of fiber per serving
- 3-1 carb-to-protein ratio — complex carbohydrate at that
- 9 other non-essential amino acids—making a whopping 18 total
- Omega 3 – although it is considered a fat-free food
- Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin (good for sunblock, eye sight), Vitamin C
- Calcium – which is actually absorbed 25% better than whole cow milk in kale form
- And to balance all that calcium, it also contains magnesium to keep it in check
- Anticancer compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbino are packed in too
Kale is a part of the cabbage family but it is a little on the wild side. Blog partner Chris, would love this description of Kale -the “hippie” member of the cabbage family.
Growing it is super easy..so all you brown thumb nay-sayers...even you can do it. All you need is soil – in a bed or pot – fertilizer, a kale transplant (when putting them in the ground I prefer transplant to seed, but if you wanted to grow seeds inside and then transplant that would work). Some sunlight and water – I only watered the first day I planted – nature did the rest. Voila – Rockin’ Kale.
By now you are on board and ready to dive into eating a “whole mess” of Kale – but how you wonder?
Here is an amazing “How To” video from one of my favorite organizations – America’s Test Kitchen.
Microwave Kale Chips
I made them for my Thanksgiving feast and what a hit. Light and airy, comparable to super bad potato chips. Yum!
Enjoy the recipe! Thanks so much for reading our blog. On this day, I am thankful for all of you and my new love -Kale.
Happy Gardening & Kale Experimenting
Well, I finally did it. I pulled out my tomatoes. It is bittersweet. Whenever you rip out those summer veggies, you are saying goodbye to that season.
Before: End of the season 2013 Tomatoes
After: A couple of hours of taking out tomato plants and cages
While this year wasn’t particularly fabulous because of the massive amount of rain <I swore I would never complain about rain, but this summer was tough….a colleague had a great description of the last couple of years of NC weather: “From Drought to Drench”>, I am grateful for the vegetables I did harvest.
The seasons are changing and that means you need to change your veggies too. I call it the Great Fall Veggie Transformation — it sounds so epic, but really so simple.
Here are the 5 Steps to Transform your Summer Vegetable Garden into a Fall One:
1)Remove your summer vegetables – take your tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and others out. I usually put this out for the city to pick up, so I don’t contaminate my compost pile.
2)Shop and pick out your fall veggies. I love fall because it makes me think of greens, autumn squash, and other grand root vegetables. I choose lots of kale, cabbage, swiss chard and threw in a few lettuces for fun. I am going to try to do broccoli and butternut squash – though I haven’t had luck in the past. But it’s a new season.
3)Collect your good planting soil, Osmocote fertilizer and a trowel and you are ready to plant. BTW-I usually do my major fertilizing in the spring, but of course your little seedlings need to eat. The slow release Osmocote does the trick– look for the pink top.
4) Plant your little plugs according to the package. I usually do it at least 6 inches apart so they have room to grow. Throw in a sprinkle of Osmocote, the plant plug and cover with good soil.
5) Water. That’s the final step. Remember transferring plants can be extremely stressful, so almost over-watering is best to help relieve the stress. Just think after you do strenuous exercise how water can be so healing.
Now, just keep up with the rainfall, watering when needed and watch it grow.
That’s it! 5 steps to the Great Fall Veggie Transformation.
Go on…get out there and get dirty!
Remember that cold, cold December we had? It didn’t matter. My October transplants of kale, cabbage, collards and leeks are great food right now, chocked full of flavor and vitamins. I just harvested a batch for one of my famous greens pies.
But you have to plan ahead, especially for a leek crop. Leek transplants are almost impossible to find in garden centers. I always have to start my own.
Below is a recent photo of next spring’s leek crop growing from seed on my dinning room table.
I’ll transplant these seedlings to the garden in late summer or fall. Next spring–fresh leeks–so much better than those woody things that show up at the grocery store. And much, much cheaper too. Leeks are pricey.
Don’t do seeds? Here’s a short cut. Next New Year look for bundles of “baby leeks” in the produce section of up-scale grocery stores. Take them home, and plant like transplants in your garden. I had leeks galore using this method one year. Give it a try. You’ll be hooked on homegrown leeks like I am…
Since I live in the south, I couldn’t get away being called a decent gardener if I didn’t grow collard greens, right?
But I can’t just stop there…Greens are one of the healthiest vegetables of all. They are packed with nutrition and flavor. Honestly, I haven’t encountered a green I didn’t like…collards, mustard, turnip, swiss chard–both ruby red and rainbow and Kale. Shoot…I even love all kinds of cabbage too. And they are super easy to grow. Here are some easy steps and pic by pic guide to growing greens.
- Buy your seeds. I waited a little late to plant mine because of our extended summer…I just couldn’t garden in 90+ degree temps. So I got mine from a local nursery…you can get them at Lowes or hardware stores too.
- Prep your soil. Till or shovel in 2:1 top soil-compost, plus I add in a slow release fertilizer in the mix. Depending what your subsoil is you should do at least a foot…since i have that glorious/NC clay(insert sarcastic tone)…I had to add quite a bit. probably 3 feet or so.
- Read the seed package directions. I say this because of the 4 different greens I planted, collards, mustard greens, swiss chard and kale, they all had different instructions on seed depth and distance between planting.
- Create your holes...I used a very high tech instrument to make these–a stick I found on the ground. HAHAHAHA.
- Drop in your seeds and cover. The collards and the mustard seeds were very small, so I had a hard time not dropping 2 or 3 per hole. But when the seedlings get between 12-18 inches tall you have to thin. Yep, Chris taught us all about thinning this winter. I tried to deny this step with my tomato seedlings. DON’T SKIP IT. Your plants will thank you for it…and you will be thankful too. Last year I didn’t think at all and just threw some seeds out. I got a low yield…they were delicious and tender…but not much of them cause they were fighting for sun, water, soil and nutrients. If you thin, you will have strong robust plants and maybe some to share…
- Don’t forget to label…I forget and then can’t remember. So label, label, label.
- Finally, water and mulch.
Different greens have different growth rates..of these 4 varieties–I should see something in the next couple of weeks.
Greens can handle our NC frost…I did this last year and come late winter, early spring…tons of greens to eat.
Want something to look forward to? Well, I have to say this Green’s Pie of blog partner Chris’s is one of my favorites, next too simply sauteing with chicken broth, garlic and olive oil. Many more recipes to come for those greens has they grow.
SO…you should grow more greens.