Curly Kale

I’m learning new things everyday living here in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and one thing I feel I have to share with everyone is a new vegetable I’ve been eating, though it’s not Bulgarian! When I began keeping chickens. My Dad was very insistent I grow Kale to feed them. He grew up in East Scotland and it was the only green that lasted the harsh winters and the chickens went mad for it. So he posted me seeds and I dutifully planted them the required distance apart, though feeling a bit peeved as they took up a lot of space in an area that had taken me a lot of hard physical graft to be a supportive vegetable bed. I then realized I could plant a different crop between, one with shallow roots and in the first year I set onions and the second lettuces.
Unfortunately Kale got itself a bad name. For many years it was seen as animal feed or food for poor people. It came into regular use after World War 2 because it was so easy to grow and contained many nutrients for the rationed public. Recently it has seen a come back as it is full of healthy benefits including high levels of Vitamin A, C, K and Calcium and Sulforaphane, an anti-cancer chemical. It is also known to lower cholesterol and absorb fat. Another benefit is the eyes with four times more Lutein than broccoli. Sounds like kale is so good for you it must taste horrible, doesn’t it? Many modern chefs have put their names behind recipes using Kale to try and encourage people to use it but I admit I believed the stories of ‘coarse’ and ‘tasteless’ had plenty of other green vegetables I knew I liked.
When the first kale leaves were big enough, I harvested a few and tied them up as suggested to hang in chicken pecking areas. My chickens were not impressed and ignored it! I tried shredding a few leaves on the ground and they still weren’t keen. So I gave it to my rabbits, who loved them and the stalks too. I’ve since added to my stock of chickens and the newbie’s went mad for kale and thereby sparked the older birds interest. My Dad was right, kale was good animal food and all year round.
So at the end of Autumn, when everything else had finished and even with daily feeding of chickens and rabbits, I had so much Kale from 10 plants I thought I’d give some a try. Simply steaming kale leaves with carrots to add to a roast dinner and I was pleasantly surprised. To me the taste was a cross between broccoli and spinach and it gave a great texture to the meal. Now I regularly harvest leaves for me too!
Other benefits to growing Kale:
– Kale is very hardy and not killed by frost or when covered in a blanket of deep, freezing snow.
– Kale keeps sending out leaves all year round and, even though I read kale dies after flowering and seeding, mine has continued to thrive.
– The open leaves mean pests, such as brassica caterpillars, can easily be picked off.
– Kale does not wilt like spinach but retains it’s shape and volume.
But before you grow some, you should try some from your grocer. You never know, you might like it!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marlene Cooney says:

    Hi Mel, we’ve been eating Kale for a long time; it is great in Smoothies with carrots, cucumber and ginger or brush it with olive oil and crisp it up in the oven to make healthy “crisps” A popular salad here is kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and dried cranberries, it doesn’t get and healthier than that. Google has lots of recipes.

    Keep sending us your news and adventures, we so enjoying hearing from you.

    Love, Marlene


    1. Melanya says:

      Hi Marlene – thanks for those suggestions – you are very healthy! Kale is also good in feta cheese pies or banitsa as they are called here 🙂

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