Kale is packed full of nutrition containing relatively high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. It is no coincidence that the plant is extremely hardy, relatively disease free, and easy to grow. Compared to other brassicas like broccoli and cabbage, kale takes up considerably less space and has a much longer harvest period, stretching right through winter.
There is a wide range of kale varieties to choose from, including splendidly colourful red and purple varieties that are seldom seen in supermarkets. Indeed, some people choose to grow kale in their gardens for its ornamental properties, with the added bonus of eating it every now and then. Aside from colour, kale is often divided into two main types, flat leaf kale and curly leaf kale. On my plot, I choose the flat leaf varieties, for the simple reason that the leaves are easier to clean. The leaves attract white flies, and the occasional caterpillar, and these are much easier to spot and wash away when the leaves are not curly.
Like other brassicas, the main problem when growing kale is keeping off birds and caterpillars. Both will happily munch through the leaves, striping the plants back to their stalks. A great feature of kale is its ability to recover from an attack. New leaves will grow from the centre of the plant, and it is this characteristic that enables the gardener to pick kale leaves over many months. To protect from wildlife, kale should be covered with a butterfly net.
The most tasty kale leaves are the small young leaves, which can even be enjoyed raw. Larger leaves can be steamed and added to stir fries or other cooked dishes. I always remove the chewy stalk that runs up the centre of the leaves by cutting vertically down the leaves with a sharp knife.
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