Grow Kale: Plant Delicious Winter Nutrition

Start cold-hardy kale now for sweet soups and salads this winter.

| October/November 2005

• Kale Recipe: Black Kale Salad 

Count kale as one of the true treasures of the fall garden, with its sweetness revealed only after old Jack Frost has kissed its leaves a time or two. This ultra-cold-hardy, leafy green vegetable is a reliable, deeply satisfying addition to any cool-weather garden. Some types have tender leaves perfect for salads. Some are great steamed or in stews, and some are so hardy you can harvest them even in the dead of winter almost anywhere. And they’re beautiful, too.

Many of the folks who buy their produce in season from local farmers have learned to love this unusual, old-fashioned fall and winter vegetable — even though they may not have grown up eating it. Kale is a little-known relative of broccoli and cabbage, with a taste that appeals to both adults and children. During my years as a kale lover, I’ve run into a number of kale-eating families with young children who relish the vegetable steamed and served simply with butter or perhaps vinegar, with salt and pepper to taste. Deb Kaldahl of the Abundant Life Seed Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington, says steamed kale is one of the few cooked vegetables her children will eat.

An elite member of a highly nutritious family of foods know as the “dark-green leafy vegetables,” kale is kin to broccoli and collards, which are its closest relatives; spinach; Swiss chard; and beet, mustard and turnip greens. All are good sources of vitamin K, folic acid and beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. Dark green leafy vegetables also are exceptionally high in other carotenoids, including zeaxanthin and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants that protect against degenerative illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease and age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness among the elderly).

For years, kale also has been touted as one of the best vegetable sources of calcium — which is especially important for vegans and others who don’t consume dairy products. Other research on calcium’s role in human nutrition sheds even more light on how important kale, collards and broccoli can be: It shows that, in order for the body to assimilate dietary calcium, magnesium also must be present in a meal. Dairy products are rich in calcium but have relatively little magnesium. Kale and its relatives have substantial amounts of both nutrients.

Grow Your Own Kale

The Tale of Two Kales

Kale thrives in cold weather and has a venerable history of nourishing people in the cold, dark months of the year, when few other green vegetables are available. The most common kale, the so-called Scotch or Scotch Curled (Brassica oleracea, Acephala group), is a primitive cabbage.

denis filion-young
12/18/2017 1:24:54 PM

My kale is still in my garden, some leaves have some (dead ) apheades I wash off but I need to know if it’s safe to eat ( kale that’s been in my garden )

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