I enjoy blogging and would have loved to hang out with you but playing outdoors on a sunny but cool Autumn day won out. And it did feel like playing, sorry:)
About kale: I want to grow different varieties, but so far I've only grown the curly leaf variety.
I still have May to plant kale seeds for this season though, so I have time to look for lacinato/dinosaur kalewhich has tall and narrow leaves.
I've never grown/eaten it before, but I understand it has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than the curly kale.
I also want to grow redbor kale, if I can find it. I looked it up online when I first heard of it and it's beautiful, with curly, dark red leaves that look like they are deep purple. It's apparently sweet and mild too, but even if we don't fall in love with the taste, I want those colourful leaves in my garden.
I've found kale to be one of the easiest vegetables to grow in my garden in Phokeng. It became my default brassica when cabbage crop after crop failed or brought a poor harvest. By contrast I found kale to be more resilient and less prone to damage from pests and diseases.
Site selection: My biggest challenge was making sure that the crop is sufficiently cool and in consideration of our relatively hot semi-arid climate, I plant it under the trees around the property. That keeps it mostly in the shade, but it doesn't seem to mind.
Soil preparation: I read that kale doesn't like too rich soil, but that's not a problem for me, as it has to compete with trees for nutrients. However, I do keep the soil well-composted.
The planting process: Planting the seeds involves inserting them a centimeter and half (½ in) deep into the soil, then watering the patch. I then keep the area moist until the seedlings break through
Caring for the plant: From then onwards I give the patch a good soaking every second day until each seedling had five or six leaves.
Today I thinned the seedlings moving them around under various trees so that there is approximately 45cm (18in) between the plants in the beds. After this, I only need to water them once or twice a week and mulch the beds to help the kale and its companion retain moisture.
Harvesting: I've found that kale tastes best for us when the leaves are still young. I start harvesting the leaves when they are around 10-15cm (4-6in) long. When I cut, make sure to leave the small leaf growing in the centre, so that the leaves can grow again.
I usually harvest kale within the day that I'm going to use it, so I don't store it long. But I understand that you can keep it in the refridgerator for a couple of days.
Serving suggestions: Don't forget to cut off the veins when you wash your kale and prepare it to cook or make a salad.
My family loves a kale and potato mash-up. Basically, we boil potatoes with a medium onion, and when it's half-way cooked, we put in fresh, shedded kale leaves and boil them both until they are soft. A spoonful of low-fat margarine, a dash of salt and they are happy to eat this with any meat or fish dish and a green salad.
We also include kale in most of our stir-fries, coupling it with julienned carrots, thinly sliced onions and robot peppers, broccoli and whatever fresh vegetables we have on hand.
For an extra dish that can go with most meals that involve rice, we just shred it, boil it until all the water is drained and fry it with a bit of oil, add a bit of salt and cayenne pepper and we're good to go.
You can also use this recipe for broccoli and cauliflower leaves, which we slice a bit more thinly and boil longer before frying. They taste like combination of cabbage and spinach.
OK. Did I mention we like brassicas? Cos we really do:)