I’ll be wearing my Kale Is The New Steel button with even more pride than usual today cause it’s National Kale Day across Canada and the US! Kale is a staple plant in every one of my urban food projects. At my largest urban agriculture property we have eight raised beds, each with a 3x10ft row of kale along with a similarly sized row of rainbow swiss chard forming a rib to anchor the center of the beds, then rotating succession crops on each side (radishes, beets, greens) The smaller urban plots I manage each have a half dozen large and healthy kale plants – easily enough to feed a few people or a family. My home greenhouse houses about a dozen unusual ornamental (but still edible) kale specimens in 12″ pots fed by worm compost teas. Kale is a fantastic food garden staple because it is easy to seed, establishes well and tolerates a range of climates, particularly colder temperatures. In fact, I find kale tastes even sweeter after the first frost and I have even dug it out from under the snow at times! Talk about a hardy plant!
- Blue Curled Scotch Kale (lower right)
– a hardy dark green staple, very tolerant both heat/drought and freezing/snow
- Red Ragged Jack Kale (lower left, 2)
– large oak-like leaves, deep purple stem, pre-1885 heirloom, sometimes tough
- Dwarf Siberian Kale (top left)
– my preferred overwintering variety, delicate frilled leaves, tender in snow, fresh taste
One of my jobs is tending an organic urban garden for a chef and today we harvested tons of kale for use in their kitchens – everything from kale and pasta salad to a kale and mixed veg tray in the buffet line to delicate fresh kale salads and delicious kale chips for executive clients. The harvest bins and sinks full of kale above really show just how much we celebrated kale on National Kale Day… and yet it was just another day for us! I harvest pounds and pounds of kale a season at that kitchen, through the urban market plots and in my home greenhouse and gardens. It’s made a wonder of a difference in my health and I’d highly recommend anyone wanting some more fresh and healthy plants in their diet should EAT MORE KALE!