There has been a tremendous increase in kale over the past few years. It has been identified as a “superfood” and no wonder with its high fibre structure and high levels of vitamins A, C and K. It also contains 3 grams of protein for every cup of raw leaves. It is however somewhat tricky to find locally. Some supermarkets and farm markets manage a small and sporadic supply which can be frustrating so this year I’m growing my own. This brassica is of course classified as a winter vegetable so by sowing now I hope to harvest the leaves from September onwards, it may not be instant but at least I know I’ll have some kale later in the year. I’ve planted an early variety Chou frisé Nero Di Toscana, and a dwarf variety Chou frisé non pommé demi-nain.
While it is possible to plant directly into the vegetable garden, I decided to get my seeds going inside until I get round to fully preparing the vegetable beds. I’ll transfer the seedlings in a few weeks when they are large enough to handle. If you’d rather plant your kale seeds directly in the vegetable garden, wait until mid-May (when the last frosts have past) and sow 1.5cm deep into already watered and finely prepared soil. The seedlings will appear in 14-21 days, water well. Once they reach about 10cms tall thin into rows 45 cms apart. They become very large plants.
As the selection of seeds available in local nurseries can really be quite overwhelming, the most important thing to establish is what you would most like to eat this year. While courgettes do fantastically well in this region and are very easy to grow if nobody is going to eat them you’ll be in trouble. Plan your vegetable garden, then plan a visit to the local nursery and buy your seeds. It is often helpful to share seeds between friends as there are so many seeds per packet. The temptation is to plant all of them, perhaps not the best idea.