Growing Guide: All Hail Kale!
Originated by the Mediterranean sea, Kale gained popularity as the most consumed leafy green of Europe by the end of the Middle ages, followed by Greece and Rome. Russian traders introduced the red curly Russian kale in Canada and then United States in the 19th century. During the challenging times of the World War 2, the DIG FOR VICTORY campaign introduced this highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable in UK and encouraged home growers to plant kale at home.
We are about to ask you to do the same but before that, lets see what makes kale so special.
1 cup cooked Kale consists of 1180% * or 1062.10 mcg Vitamin K, 98% or 885.36 mcg of Vitamin A and 71 % or 53.30 mg of Vitamin C. Besides being an excellent source of these essential vitamins it is also a great source of manganese, copper, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, vitamin E and more.
* of daily recommended value *source whfood.com
Grow Your Own Kale!
This 2000 year old Mediterranean superhero has recently revealed its remarkable powers and it is about to land on your rooftop!
The only challenge in growing kale is sourcing a good heirloom seed. The problem can be solved easily if you travel to other countries, have a friend or relative who can carry seeds for you, a credit card that makes online payments or a local grower who is willing to share seeds.
We have been growing it at home for the last 4 years and at the school garden since 2014 and it has been a effortless crop that keeps on producing through out the year. The best part is that this green vegetable performs exceptionally well in Karachi and plants started from seeds will keep producing for at least next 2 years. I have some that are almost 3 years old now.
Kale exists in diverse forms all around the world but here are our recommended varieties that will not let you down.
Always buy heirloom, non-gmo and preferably non hybrid seeds if you want to experience true flavors and the pleasure of seed saving.
Lacinato or Dinasorus: Earthy, nutty flavor, dark blue-green leaves.
When to Plant it in Karachi?
You can start your seeds outdoors any time of the year except for the peak summer days. Since the plant produces for several years, you need to start your seeds only once in a year or two. My kale seedlings that I planted 2 weeks back are growing fast and look healthy even in this heat. The older batch that I started in early winters is lush with growth.
Sowing, Transplant and Aftercare
This super vegetable, like other green vegetables love a generous supply of organic feed or fertilizer. You can either sow seeds in a container or on the ground directly or start your seedlings and transplant.
In case starting seedlings, sow seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover with sieved manure or fine compost. You can also use seedling trays and in that case use coco peat mixed with compost. Water gently and cover with a newspaper. Keep moist until the seedlings emerge and grow 4 pairs of leaves . Its time to transplant them into bigger pots or plot. Each plant needs 12 iches of space to grow. Make sure the pot is also at least 12 inch deep. Adding a thin layer of organic fertilizer every month will help in keeping plants healthy.
Harvesting & Storing
You can start picking outer leaves when they are 5 inches long or you can let them grow bigger. Kale is easiest to cook while it is fresh. Remove the stems, chop leaves and use immediately or blanch and freeze. The stems can be cooked too or sent to the compost bin or fed to the hens!
I love converting spinach based desi meals into kale based. Daal-Kale or kale-Paneer makes a deliciously healthy lunch while Kale,banana & berry smoothie is simply divine as a breakfast. Kale Quiche made with home grown kale and eggs is a perfect way to share the blessings of organic food. For dinners try topping up your whole wheat pizza with kale or a warm cup of clear soup with kale goodness will be so comforting.
There are so many ways in which you can include this super vegetable in to your diet if you grow a few pots of Kale at home!