Monday, April 13, 2015

Kale- Great for you and your garden

Monday's letter is "K" and I thought I'd take a day to talk about Greens for your garden. Kale being one that has recently become popular.

Overall greens  are something that everyone should have in their garden. They are easy to grow, can be grown all year in most climates. Places with a harsh winters can use row covers  to grow greens before the worst of the season hits. Kale especially is better when the weather is cooler and can survive temperatures even into the 20's.

Kale enjoys full sun but needs to have at least an inch to an inch and 1/2 of water each week as well as a soil with lots of organic material. You can get two crops a year by planting early in the spring  and late in the summer. They do have some problems with bugs but that can be remedied by using a soap based spray. If leaves have heavy bug infestations pick them off and compost them. Leave at least four leaves on the plant to help continue growth. Kale can be direct seeded or started indoors. We have such a crazy warm, freezing, cool weather pattern we start most cooler plants indoors, then transplant to the garden or containers depending on the plants

When at the peak of the season, plants can reach a good size. No need to pull the entire plant, just pick off enough of the medium to smaller leaves for your use and allow the plant to continue growing.

Kale has many health benefits when steamed. It's also great in stir fry, smoothies and salads. Substitute Kale for spinach in practically any dish you use it in. It is recommended for lowering cholesterol, used in detoxing diets and has anti inflammatory benefits.

Need a quick snack that's healthy try Kale Chips. Here's the recipe we use:

  • Pick the medium size leaves, large leaves have a tougher stem and the taste can be a bit off putting.
  • Wash well and tear the leaves into large pieces
  • I use a 1/2 teaspoon per batch ( a batch will cover a large backing sheet) of olive oil and toss to coat well. Don't over coat that will leaves you with soggy treats.
  • Spread your leaves evenly into a thin layer on the baking sheet, you can use a parchment paper if you'd like to make cleaning easier.
  • Every oven is different but we use 300 degrees for a slow even bake. After 10 minutes I will turn the pan and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Check your progress, your oven may be more efficient than ours. You want crisp but not burnt edges. It took a few tries to get the just right texture.
  • Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt if you'd like and then enjoy!
Once you have mastered the original, you can add other flavors, dry ingredients like garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes  or cumin work best. Experiment with your favorite flavors and create a new favorite signature snack.

This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge so check out all kinds of great blogs, there are over 1700 participating as of last count. Check back on Tuesday for "L" and find out what being a "Locavore" really means and why it's important.