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How to Grow (and Cook) Kale – A Super Veggie!

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It’s not exotic or expensive, but kale is one of those much-touted “super foods,” and it’s also super easy to grow! Here’s what you need to know about growing kale, and some tasty ways to prepare it.

Kale is a delicious and nutritious green from the crucifer (brassica) family. It’s full of vitamins, fiber, and protein, which gives it that coveted “superfood” status. There are lots of delicious ways you can eat kale, both raw and cooked, and it’s one of our favorite greens!

Kale is actually a pretty simple veggie to grow. Like many other cruciferous vegetables, it likes cool weather, and in many areas of the country it may even be grown as a fall or winter crop. Cold weather, rather than killing the plant, just makes it sweeter and more nutritious!

However, there are some considerations you need to take into account if you want to successfully grow kale using organic methods.

How to Grow and Care for Kale

Kale is a heavy feeder with an appetite for nitrogen. Organic growers should add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure to their soil. Kale can be direct-seeded or transplanted outside up to 5 weeks before the date of the last expected spring frost and succession-planted until 6 weeks before the first expected fall frost. It will produce over a long season, but its flavor is best after fall frosts increase the sugar content of leaves.

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Kale Pests, Diseases and Problems

Kale is a fairly hardy crop, but there are still some pests and diseases that may occur.

Curled, puckered, yellow leaves may be a sign of aphid infestation. Look on the undersides of leaves for soft-bodied green, brown or pink insects about the size of pinheads. Aphids can be handpicked or killed with organic insecticidal soap. Ladybugs eat aphids.

Ragged holes in leaves may be caused by cabbage loopers or cabbage worms, light green yellow-striped caterpillars. Handpick them or spray with Bacillus thuringiensis.

Tiny pinholes in your leaves may be the work of flea beetles, tiny black jumping beetles that are very hard to handpick. Skeletonized leaves may be caused by the Mexican bean beetle. Leaves chewed to the stem suggest the presence of vegetable weevils. Pyrethrum spray may control these pests. Pyrethrum is organic but toxic to bees–spray it in the evening when pollinators aren’t active. Curly kale may be less susceptible to beetle damage than flat-leafed kale.

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Kale Varieties

Flat-leafed kales… are prized for their tenderness and flavor, but they are susceptible to pest and disease problems….

Curly kales… are highly productive and more cold-hardy, pest-resistant and disease-resistant than other kale varieties.

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Three Favorite Ways to Prepare Kale from the Garden

Young leaves may be eaten raw in salads or juiced. Older leaves are best cooked….

If you like steamed kale, try mixing them with cheese and pesto for lasagna filling. Or, make a kale pesto!…

Using kale in salads is one of our favorite ways to use kale from the garden, specifically with an Asian dressing or seasonings….

Make “kale chips” by tearing leaves into pieces, drizzling them with olive oil and salt and baking them….

Read the full article at GardeningChannel.com….

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