Your Burning Kale Questions Answered

The curious case of kale: we answer your most pressing queries about this super vegetable

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Curious about this veggie you keep hearing about? Our experts give you the low-down on kale

Kale is such a hot topic nowadays that I have asked Sharon Hanna, author of The Book of Kale: The Easy-To-Grow Superfood, what are the five kale questions she’s most commonly asked.

Here they are, along with answers from the both of us.

When is the Right Time to Sow Kale for Overwintering in the Garden?

Sharon says: “In The Book of Kale, I said May for Tuscan kale because it seems to take longer. The rest should be in by the end of June or squeaked in during the very beginning of July but no later. Catalogues say July or even August, but the plants don’t have the change to get big enough!”

And I agree with this: June-planted kale reaches a good size for winter, and a dozen plants can provide a family with so many greens that they have an ample supply at the ready for fall and right through to next May or June.

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How can I Convince My Family to Eat Kale?

The brilliant thing about planting kale for winter harvest is that anyone who doesn’t yet think that kale is yummy will be blown away by how delicious it can be after being kissed by frost.

Sweet, crunchy, tender and so fresh-tasting, a winter-grown crop is the crème de la crème of kale, and the plant’s sweetness will remain for all of your harvests for months to come.

For example, in April I am snipping sweetly succulent leaves and buds from my overwintered kale every day for lunch and dinner, plus nibbling quite a bit of it out in the garden . . . it’s pretty hard to resist.

Also: Kale chips, kale fritters, and kale salad.

What is Your Favourite Variety of Kale?

This is one of those “which is your favourite child” questions that a mother cannot answer! There are simply too many awesome kale varieties. That being said, I love Tuscan for its dramatic presence in the garden and the easy washability of its smooth leaves.

This is Sharon’s fave, too, although we both grow several types in our gardens all year long. I should say that kale is very pretty in the garden, particularly if you include different types with their varying textures and colours.

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What is Eating My Kale?

Yes, this happens . . . some years you will find butterfly larvae munching on your kale, usually in August. If this happens to me, I mostly just ignore the infested established plants until the critters move along.

At that time, any rough-looking leaves can be composted or rinsed off for soup stock; and even if the plants look a bit worse for wear, they will quickly rebound with an abundance of fresh new growth.

As for newer, more vulnerable plants, Sharon advises: “Pay attention, and then use mechanical means (i.e. picking off the butterfly and other insect larvae), especially if you are raising transplants. Otherwise the larvae will skeletonize the plants and you’ll have nothing left but a stalk and leaf margin.”

Is Kale Really a Superfood?

Sharon says: “Of all the vegetables (and foods) possible, kale receives a whopping 1,000 out of 1,000 in the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index scoring system – catapulting it into the superstar category. This means it is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.”