Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

Cracking Kale

Cracking Kale 15th October 2015

A gardeners ‘favourite vegetable’ is an ever-changing and sensitive subject. Currently for me ,it’s kale.
Kale seeds will happily germinate as long as it’s above 5 degrees, and as long as you respect their root system’s private nature, by giving them little disturbance, they are very easy to grow. They eventually become stunning plants, the green and purple tones look their best this time of the year.

Kale is apparently nutritionally superior to most other brassicas and is extremely tasty. It’s versatile too; it can be cooked with pasta, just steamed or stir fried, added to smoothies and even baked into kale crisps.

In the potager the kales are invaluable. ‘Cavalo Nero’ does indeed resemble a little palm tree hence one of its other common names – palm cabbage. ‘Red Russian’ is as eye-catching as any of the beautiful autumn shrubs in the nursery. ‘Dwarf Blue Curled’ is nearly ready to be transplanted and I am hopeful that it will become a distinct low edging in the brassica beds.

For the first time, we have grown some ornamental kales, and the more mature plants can be seen in the aged terracotta pots dotted about the potager. ‘Peacock Red’ is not yet fully grown and already has incredibly intricate veined frilly leaves. Apparently if you get really hungry they will make a respectable soup.

Ornamental Kale 'Peacock Red'

Ornamental Kale ‘Peacock Red’

Another new addition is Kalettes, a cross between kale and Brussel sprouts known also as flower sprouts. When the kalettes start forming, remove the top leaves (cooks and tastes just like kale ) so that the plant can direct its energy towards forming larger flower sprouts. The sprouts resemble tiny purple cabbages, each one surrounded by little green frilly leaves.
To date the downside to kalettes is the patience required before you get a harvest. The seeds were sown in March, so it feels like a few more weeks of waiting and we would be hanging balloons in the window.

limegarden@sky.com • 2nd November 2015

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