Kale is a super-hardy brassica (relative of broccoli, cabbage & Brussels sprouts).
It is extremely nutritious even rivaling wild greens in its overall values.
It should be planted like its relatives; in good, loamy soil with lots of sunshine and a few marigolds tucked in.
As it grows, the leaves can be harvested and used—they will be replaced by others.
When preparing kale, the ribs need to be discarded. They are too tough to eat but you can give them to your chickens if you have them. The rest of the leaves can be chopped or torn and used in a salad or sautéed with butter and olive oil (or steamed). One of my favorite ways to eat it is in kale chips. To make the chips, tear or cut the leaves into sections; they will be uneven (see photo).
These I roll through melted lard (only good-quality, non-hydrogenated lard) or olive oil or spray it onto the pieces. Dust with salt or a seasoned salt (I use Herbamare). Then place on cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven. Bake until crisp. The cooking time totally depends on the amount of oil you use. If you just spray on a little bit, it will go quickly. If you dip them, it takes longer. Once they cool, they are ready to serve. And delicious! Also much better for you than any commercial chips (and, I think, more tasty, too).
Fall is also the time to plant spinach. Here in the northeast, we plant spinach in late summer as our season is so short. However, in the south, now would be a good time to plant it. Spinach likes cool and cold weather and doesn’t even mind a frost. After a frost, don’t pick it right away. It will just mush in your hand. If you wait until the temperatures warm, it will turn back into spinach. Truly amazing!
I cover both the spinach and kale with clear plastic over supports once the snow threatens. I have had these crops last until Christmas. In the spring, the spinach comes back for another couple of months. Well worth the effort of planting, weeding, thinning and watering.
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.