Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coming Back!

(Photo: Kale flowers on the over-wintered Red Russian kale in our Project Grow community garden getting ready to make zillions of kale seeds, if I don't eat all the flowers first!)

After 3 busy months (read my full update at my dianadyer blog post today), I am ready to start blogging again. I have missed doing so and have lots of ideas backlogged to post up. My life going forward is also going to be very busy, but my hope is that it will be busy in a more controlled chaotic way, rather than just plain chaotic, so that I can keep up with some regular postings.

This "hedge" of kale started with a packet of seeds purchased at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, VA, and planted in our community garden during 2007. We harvested the kale through the late fall of 2007 and then just left all the plants in the garden without cleaning them out. Most of the plants died back, but one "came back" in the spring of 2008, which we watched both flower and produce seeds that were subsequently collected and planted in the late summer of 2008 in a raised bed after the garlic was pulled out. We did mulch this bed of kale during the winter 2008, and much to our happiness, ALL of these plants came back in the spring 2009 (thus this summer "hedge" of kale in the photo).

We now have plenty of kale to eat on a daily basis (still edible the second year although the leaves are not nearly as big) plus even the flowers and tender early seed pods are tasty and edible (I use them raw in salads). Perhaps cutting some flowers and early seed pods to eat stimulates the plants to produce more and more and more flowers and seed pods as there is clearly no shortage. In fact, the kale hedge is now nearly always flat on the ground in our garden from both the weight of the zillion mature seed pods and the flock of House sparrows that is always hanging out in the hedge, scattering in a hundred different directions in one big fluttering poof! when we walk up to our garden. I'm not sure if this raised bed will have a zillion-zillion kale plants growing voluntarily next year (or this fall!) or if the sparrows have been diligent and efficient in finding and eating all of the seeds that have fallen. I'll be sure to watch.

In any case, I think we have found one strain of this variety of kale that has the natural genetics to withstand the northern cold winter. It will be interesting to see how many years we can keep it going strong! I am collecting seeds now for a fall crop and also next spring.

(Photo: Kale with flowers and early seed pods - the spiky things near the center and on the right of the photo. The pods eventually dry and turn brown with the tiny black seeds just exploding out of the pod when touched, scattering to all corners of the garden unless you can carefully catch them into some type of container such as ziploc bag or even a garden hat!)

It's great to be back - where kale is still more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

13 comments:

peppylady (Dora) said...

I was wondering who might about blog about Kale and I came across your site plus I see you mention our 3rd president of the United States.
I had stem kale with chard for lunch.
This is our first year growing Kale.

Stop by if you have the chance and coffee is on always.

Elaine (@Greens & Berries) said...

Welcome back. So wonderful to read your words again. A kale hedge! Another function of this amazing food.

Estella said...

Hello! I came across your site while trying to find new recipes for kale. I am so happy that there are so many kale lovers out there! I use kale in everything - great in eggs, with garlic, raw with lemon juice, with potatoes, on pizza...
it is very healthy for you and it's so easy to grow!
I look forward to perusing your blog!

Anonymous said...

365 days of Kale,
Glad to see some Kale lovers out there. We eat Kale, Chard, or Collards every day (almost). Amazing food. My girlfriend ate lots of it when pregnant of our sons...and you should see the health of our boys. They where both crawling across a room at only 4 months!
Stay healthy eat Kale.
Stef.

JoanBailey said...

Just browsing your blog, Diana, and enjoying it as always! My kale plants will go to seed this coming year, and I wondered if there was any particular trick to collecting and saving the seeds?

Diana Dyer said...

Hi Joan,
The 'trick' is to watch the seed pods develop, change from green to brown and from leathery to crispy, looking like they ready to pop. The first year I picked the pods, put them into my garden hat, and by the time I had walked to my car at our community garden, the seed pods had all popped by themselves deep in my cloth hat (good thing it was not a loosely woven straw hat!). I store them in labeled paper envelopes over the winter. That's it! Good luck collecting the seeds next year.
Diana

Dan Owen said...

A very nice and well written blog. I have one large kale that went to seed this spring and am following its development in my blog also.

Anonymous said...

New collard plants are producing now, so today I pulled up some kale and collard plants that survived winter and bloomed. Bees seemed to love those flowers even more than I did!
I wondered if those seed pods would be edible. Thanks for answering my question!
"Red Russian" kale survived the zone 6 winter, "Curled Siberian" lasted only until mid-January.

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana!
I am SO excited to find your blog on kale, as I started growing it 4 years ago (Russian, and also Lacinato) and LOVE it and have introduced many people to it, who swore they hated kale.

I have a hedge too, and trimming some of it back so I can begin to put in my winter garden (living on Vancouver Island, in Victoria, British Columbia, it grows well all year here), I am finding tons of self-seeded babies, in fact have to be careful pulling out the weeds bec the babies are growing in the 'arms' of at least 3 different kinds of weeds. Lovely synergy.

My questions are:
- can you eat the seed pods - also after they are green? - and can you eat the seeds without sprouting them? AND...

- can you mature the immature green pods (which have beautiful, tiny, pearl-like green seeds inside) on the stalks, AFTER pulling them out of the soil? I'm going to experiment with that this year, but thought I'd ask you too. AND...

- have you (or anyone here) experimented with dehydrating kale to put away in glass jars for soups in winter or betw kale generations?

Best wishes, also to everyone here!
Astri

Anonymous said...

oh - one more question:
` Someone involved in organic and biodynamic gardening said to me that one should only eat a certain vegetable 3 days in a row and then take a break for about 3 days. The reason was that every plant has its own toxins, even in tiny amounts, and the body needs a break.
Anyone heard anything like that?

Astri

Diana Dyer said...

Astri
Thanks for finding my blog! I have eaten the seeds, which I figure are just like mustard seeds. I have not eaten the pods but I have eaten the flowers. I have not dehydrated kale but I will try to do so this year. Good idea. I usually have so much that I freeze it for future soups, stir-frys, etc.
Best wishes and enjoy that synergy!
Diana

Diana Dyer said...

Astri
As you peruse all the postings on this blog, you will see a recurring 'theme' of variety, variety, variety, and moderation. Eating the same food day after day may not only have an issue of toxins but would be (IMHO) boring......... :) There are a gazillion foods and most all whole foods contain a wide array of health (i.e. 'bio-active' which is research-speak) components besides being delicious.
Diana

Anonymous said...

I found radish pods last fall (Yum!) and discovered kale buds and flowers this spring as well as several other brassica's in the garden. I am excited to find the pods are edible too! If they are anything like the radish pods then this fall will be met with a flurry of planting all of these for spring! Thanks for the great info :D