Keeping kale hearty

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DESPITE everything growing at at frantic rate to catch up, one thing that hasn’t changed is the “hungry gap”.

It’s that time when the last of the winter produce has been used and the new stuff’s not ready to pick.

Despite this, there’s a few stalwarts who provide pickings even in this lean period.

Kale is one of them. Shunned for years as a poor man’s veg, its recent status as a “superfood” has made it the veg to grow.

It’s rich in calcium, lutein, iron, beta-carotene, and Vitamins A, C, and K.

It’s abundant in phytochemicals, substances associated with the prevention of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension and can decrease cholesterol levels.

Kale contains more than 45 different flavonoids which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The plants are hard as nails and survived last winter and spring – I hacked them back for lots of new foliage to pick before being composted.

The yellow flowers also provide a rare source of nectar early in the year for bees.

I started my Tuscan black kale (Cavolo di Nero) and the red variety in modules in March and planted them out last month in the front garden – they provide a lovely foil to herbaceous perennials.

However, you can keep sowing direct until August for mature plants over winter and the leaves freeze well.