Go Organic: Kale is easy to grow and packed with nutrients

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When I was a nipper back in the 1970s, one of my least favourite vegetables was kale.

Top of the list was Brussels sprouts, which I can’t abide to this day, but curly kale was right up there.

Much to my relief, kale fell out of fashion as a food for people although it continued to be grown for fodder.

But now it’s back.

It features on the menus of some of our smartest restaurants and in the Sunday supplements.

It is often described as that most meaningless of terms a superfood, but it is certainly packed with nutrients.

Kale is high in vitamins A, C and K – especially if you eat it raw or lightly cooked.

Like many brassicas it is also high in lutein, which is believed to help prevent macular degeneration, the most common cause of loss of vision in older people.

So kale is good for you, but is it worth growing?

Now that I’m a rather older and wiser I’d have to say yes.

There are more varieties available to amateur gardeners now and some of them are much nicer than the ones commonly used 30 years ago.

Kale used to be popular because it was exceptionally hardy and would grow in the winter when not much else would. The older varieties tended to be chosen because they were tough and productive rather than for flavour.

Now you can easily get seed for some of the tastier varieties like the wonderful Nero di Toscana.

New cooking techniques also bring out the best in kale, which can be bitter. Stir frying is a great way to cook kale but you can also shred it very finely and eat it raw.

Even small children may be induced to eat it, steamed and smothered in garlic butter.

Kale is easy to grow, but like many winter brassicas it does occupy the ground for a long time so you need to work it into your rotation plan carefully.

Sow your seeds in April or May and you should be picking it right through the winter and into spring.

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