Review of one year with kale - tips, benefits and a recipe
Kale was certainly one of the outstanding plants in our garden this year. No joke, it provided us with fresh greens from the middle of June until now. Yes, you read right - until now! We are adventurous this year and experiment with the hardiness of our kale plants without any frost protection.
The experiment goes really well. One part of the success surely lies in the choice of hardy varieties. This year we tried Darkibor, Redbor and Vesey's Wild Garden Mix, which consists of an assortment of Russian and Siberian kale (all seeds from Vesey's Seeds, PEI - Canada). These varieties are very frost resistant. They survived temperatures as low as -23°C already! It always looks like they froze to death, leaves all hanging down limply after a really frosty night. Next thing you know they bounce back up and look as lively and crisp like before the frost. Kale is an amazing and definitely underestimated plant. It's ideal for every kitchen garden because it is easy to grow from seed, very hardy and it requires almost zero maintenance. All you need to do during the warm season is checking for pests - mostly flea beetles and caterpillars of the white cabbage butterfly. I was impressed by how durable the plants were. Even plants that were badly infested with pests survived extremely well and grew new healthy leaves after the pests were gone.
You can sow kale directly into the ground as soon as you can work the soil. After the little seedlings appear you just need to cover these tender plants in danger of frost - otherwise just leave them alone to grow big. We enjoyed fresh kale all summer long and stored a lot in the freezer. In total we harvested about 16 kg from the middle of June till mid November. Even tough kale collapses a lot when you cook it (similar to spinach) - 16 kg brings you a long way right till next season. With one of our cold frames and frost covers you can harvest kale all winter long. Ideally start seeds for winter growing in August, so you can harvest fresh greens from your cold frame all through the cold season. Imagine! Fresh organic greens right from your own garden in the middle of winter! That really improves your carbon footprint and your health at the same time. No need to buy greens from the store that look half dead already when you get them. With growing greens like kale all winter long in your own garden you reduce the CO2 emission for transportation (imported fruits and vegetables from far away and the drive to the store) and eat fresh organic greens filled with healthy vitamins and minerals (in kale especially Vitamin A, K and C, Manganese and Potassium).
These are probably the two mayor benefits of having a kitchen garden, because they account for each and every plant all year round. Every leaf, every root and every tomato you can pick from your own kitchen garden positively influences your carbon footprint and health.
Now you might think 'Ok, that sounds pretty good, but how do I feed these goodies to my family? How can I even make my kids eat kale?' I know, this is a very tricky part. Having two small boys of my own, I know how hard it is to slip some greens into their tummy. But there is one recipe that showed success in this matter! It's as simple as you can think - lasagna with kale. It's based on a recipe that included spinach, which is just as delicious. And here it comes - from garden to table:
boil your lasagna noodles according to the package instructions
wash, cut and steam one hand full of kale (about 300 g) - stems and all - until tender
mash the kale in a blender or with a hand blender, add some salt and pepper to taste
oil the bottom of an oven dish with 3 tbsp of olive oil
cover it with the first layer of lasagna noodles
cover the noodles with the kale mash
put one cup of ricotta cheese on top of the kale
add your second layer of lasagna noodles
add a home made tomato sauce from your own tomato harvest (or ready made tomato sauce) - with or without meat - as the next layer
add another layer of lasagna noodles
add some more tomato sauce and finally grated mozzarella cheese
bake it in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes
Tip: Exchange lasagna noodles with macaroni noodles, which is even more attractive to little eaters.
You can also just throw a hand full of kale leaves (no stems) in delicious smoothies. My boys can't resist banana-blueberry-yogurt smoothies, even if there is kale in it :-) Just be sure you blend it all really well and smooth.
Did you like what you just read and want to have a kitchen garden of your own? All you have to do is get in contact with My Nordic Garden and book your consult. Now is the best time to plan your kitchen garden, so the installation can take place as soon as the ground is workable and you can grow as soon as the spring comes around. Don't hesitate and go for it! It's all beneficial for you, your family and the environment.