Tag Archives: kale

Putting the Garden to Bed


Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Salad Garden

A wide assortment of Spring salad lettuces

A wide assortment of Spring salad lettuces, peas, and radishes

As gardeners, we yearn to sow the earliest seeds of spring into the garden-Botanical Interests‘ lettuce, peas, kale, spinach, arugula, mustards, carrots, radish…yum, you get the idea. These early, fresh spring crops are up in the garden and paying off on the salad plate. Add some overwintered carrots, onion leaves, homegrown pansy and bachelor button flowers, and you have a downright masterpiece for the eyes and the palate.

Planting tip:

These Botanical Interests radish seeds produce a harvest in less than four weeks!

These Botanical Interests radish seeds produce a harvest in less than four weeks!

Succession sowing:

Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days

Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days

Succession sowing refers to sowing a crop in intervals to ensure a continuous harvest. By sowing crops with different days to maturity (harvest), you are planning for multiple harvests in one effort. For example, Cherry Belle radishes are ready in 24 days,  Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days, and Atomic Red carrots will mature in 70 to 75 days. When you sow both of these crops at the same time, you already have two successive harvests.

Harvesting tips:

Botanical Interests Mustard seeds

Botanical Interests Mustard seeds

Whenever possible, harvest vegetables in the cool of the morning. Both greens (spinach, mustards, Swiss chard, and kale) and lettuce can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or more. Harvest entire stems with the leaves of Swiss chard, kale, and mustard; it helps the plant put its energy into more growth.

It’s not too late to get a salad garden growing!

Why We Love Kale


 Kale, a member of the brassica family, is delicious, nutritious and easily prepared (see cooking ideas below).

Nutritional benefits:

  • Kale has two of the most powerful superstar antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids. These vital nutrients aid in expelling free-radicals and helps fight cancer. Its’ fiber density will help keep your belly feeling full, hence you can avoid overeating.
  • Kale is rich in  immunity boosting Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin C which promote better skin and healthier bones.
  • Kale contains Omega fatty acids. A serving of kale contains 121 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 92.4 mg of omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Kale functions as an Anti-Inflammatory: which fights arthritis, heart disease and a number of autoimmune diseases.
  • To get the most benefit out of this leafy green, buy it locally here in the North Fork or better yet, grow your own from seeds or plants found in the store.

Growing KaleWinter-kale-seedling

Kale grows best in a loamy soil that drains well and has been enriched with moderate amounts of organic matter. Like other greens, kale requires plenty of nitrogen for the best production. Prepare the soil by working in manure-enriched compost, leaf mold, and peat moss.

Mulching is highly beneficial when growing kale, particularly in the summer. Since the roots run horizontally around the plant, only inches below the soil surface the plants will benefit from mulching grass clippings, clean straw, and/or compost. The mulch keeps the soil cool, conserves moisture, and makes nutrients readily available to the feeder roots.

Cooking with KaleKaleCooked5

Prepare the leaves:  Although small, tender leaves can be used raw in salads  I prefer to serve kale  hot, using this basic recipe:  Wash the leaves in cold water to remove the grit.  Remove the stalks and central ribs of the leaves, then chop or shred the greens as you would spinach.

Steam the kale long enough to make the greens tender, preserve color, and to maintain the high vitamin and mineral content.

Steamed Kale Side Dish:  Saute an onion in coconut oil until it is softened, then add the kale leaves with 1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth, or red, or white wine.  Simmer until the kale leaves are tender, stir in some crushed garlic, and sauté briefly for another minute or two.  Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice.  It’s that simple!!!!

5-step-kale-salad+5Other variations for cooked kale:

  • Experiment with chopped raw kale in a variety of summer salad recipes including match stick carrots, chopped avacado, red onion, nuts, and Parmesan Cheese.
  • Add the chopped kale greens to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Sauté chopped kale for a minute or two, and then add to omelets or scrambled eggs for a different breakfast.
  • Sauté the greens with garlic then add tarragon or balsamic vinegar and toss with your favorite pasta.
  • Serve with grated sharp Cheddar or Swiss cheese.
  • Share your favorite uses for kale in the comments section below!