‘Brassica Oleracea’ var. Acephala
Kale is a versatile form of cabbage that prefers a cooler climate. It is an annual/biennial plant that overwinters well and becomes sweeter with cold. Hot weather will turn this cabbage bitter and tough but it is tolerant of almost any condition.
Starting from seed: Kale will germinate in temperatures as low as 5°C (45°F) but will germinate much more quickly in warmer temperatures. Direct seed outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked, you may also plant a few weeks before the first frost and cover with mulch to have an early spring crop. Space seeds 6-8 inches apart, cover with 1/2 inch of soil and don’t allow the soil to dry out until the seeds have germinated. Germination should occur within 5-10 days. Kale tolerates shade to full sun, keeping in mind this plant likes a cooler environment. Avoid planting with other members of the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) as this may encourage pests.
Harvest the lower leaves of kale as soon as it is established. A general rule is to harvest a leaf of kale when the main stem of the leaf is thick, as the stems get thicker the tougher they become. Normal shelf life of fresh kale is around 2 weeks and there are many methods people use to extend this life. Some will place the stalks in water in the fridge like a vase as water will generally make the kale sweeter. Some keep kale moist and loose in bags, there are many ways to prolong the shelf life of this hardy plant.
Kale is an extremely nutritious plant. It is high in beta carotine, vitamins A, B, C, and K, lutein, and it is extremely rich in calcium. This plant also contains sulforaphane, a chemical with anti-cancer properties and helps lower risk of prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Sulforaphane is enhanced in this plant when it is chopped or minced while boiling will decrease the presence. Steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying does not effect this chemical. This plant is low-fat and contains no cholesterol with vitamin A slowing vision degeneration, and vitamin K promoting bone strengthening and limiting neuronal damage to the brain. It is this property that has made this plant an aid in treating people with Alzheimer’s. Kale can be prepared for consumption in almost any way or can be eaten raw. One of the most unique recipes for cooking kale is placing leaves on a baking sheet and popping them in the oven for crunchy kale chips.
Traditionally kale has been used as a home remedy to trigger hunger, soothing rashes, easing food allergy symptoms, and easing lung congestion. Kale is known to be beneficial to stomach, liver, and immune system and well as lowering risk of certain types of cancer as discussed above. Kale is also extremely beneficial to rabbits and aids in their digestion, reducing gas that can be fatal.
Yellow Bird Acres offers heirloom kale seeds that are perfectly suited and adapted to Zone 3a.