Sunday 22 May 2016

Planting Kale

Kale is not the OH's favourite vegetable when cooked conventionally as "greens", but when made into Kale Chips it meets with approval, and I like it in most forms (kale smoothies somehow don't appeal though), so this year I'm giving it a go.

I have grown four plants of the variety "Winterbor". It is a curly-leaved variety, growing to about two feet tall. Since it is very hardy, it is normally sown in early Summer, for cropping in late Autumn through to early Spring, but I decided to grow it earlier, because I couldn't fit it into my Winter veg plans. With a bit of luck I'll have leaves available for use by about the end of June.

This week I judged my Kale plants to be the right size for planting out, which was convenient because some space had just been freed-up by the end of harvesting of my first sowing of Radishes. I have put the four plants at the corners of the bed which holds the Broad Beans. In due course, when the beans have finished, this bed will play host to my PSB - but that's a long way off yet!

I could show you all four corners of this bed, each with its new Kale plant, but I won't - they all look exactly the same!

As you can see, the Kale plants are currently about the size of the diminutive "Robin Hood" Broad Beans. If the beans were really big ones I might have hesitated about planting the Kale here, but as it is I think they will be all right and get enough light.

I am amazed how clean and unblemished my brassicas (including the Kale) are this year. They are all just about perfect: no slug damage; no caterpillar damage; no Cabbage Root Fly damage. It's scary. I've never had this happen before. I can't think what I have done that might have made the difference. Normally I lose a few seedlings before they reach "adulthood", but this year none of my spares have been deployed. I wish it was always like this! Just a couple of days ago I dutifully applied the usual dose of nematodes, but half of me thinks it wasn't necessary...

This year I'm not growing any Cavolo Nero, which I do usually grow. We have "gone off it" at least temporarily. And in any case, since I have started taking more of an interest in Leeks, I probably won't have the space available. Growing over the Winter this time I aim to have Cabbage, Leeks, Brussels Sprouts and PSB - and of course Parsnips if they last that long.

Changing the subject slightly, my Peas are now growing rapidly. They love the damp, mild conditions.

The first few flowers are visible now:
Along each side of the raised bed I currently have a piece of chicken wire, which is there to deter the badgers from digging up the Beetroot plants alongside the rows of Peas. I think I will have to remove the wire soon, because the peas are beginning to reach out for it, and I don't want to leave it there permanently, otherwise harvesting the peas will be very tricky. Hopefully the Beetroot is now big enough to survive despite the nocturnal furtling-around.


  1. Your kale plants look so big and healthy and soon you'll have peas, very exciting. I've never had any luck growing beetroots, maybe I need to thin them more diligently. You are definitely getting a lot done in your garden.

  2. Curly kale make an attractive plant especially the purple leafed variety. I wish the slugs were leaving our brassicas alone.

  3. Your kale plants are looking good, definitely ready to set out. Lots of tasty dishes using kale to persuade the doubters, like my wife. Try kale with white beans and sausage, or Portuguese kale soup (the Azorean version).

  4. I like kale but would never ever put it in a smoothie!

  5. Kale is a favourite around here - I'm glad you are giving it another try. Agree with David - the Portuguese "Caldo Verde" is AMAZING - a definite must try!

    That's great about the lack of damage - around here, slugs don't usually cause a lot of damage until summer is really underway. It probably takes them a while to shake off winter or perhaps there are just so many bits of tender new growth everywhere that they leave my greens alone until the wild offerings toughen up.

    And I think it's still a good idea to apply the nematodes - you know the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure :)

  6. We are only now just picking our first crop of kale here despite getting the plants from a market last September! Sarah x


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