Consider Kale

Primo nutrient-rich, easy to grow KALE!

Grow Kale in Alberta

One of the best and hardiest backyard garden crops for a northern garden is kale. Kale grows amazingly well in Edmonton in our backyard garden. 

Kale seeds can be a bit finicky to germinate. I've had good germination of kale seeds when I start them indoors in potting mix. Just press the seeds into the soil, not buried, and keep them moist. Once your garden is up and running, transplant the kale seedlings. Kale can tolerate cool temperatures, so you can get it into the garden earlier than most crops - early May in Edmonton.

Kale has moderately deep, strong roots so be sure the plants have room to grow, with deep fertile soil. If tiny bugs (flea beetles) attack kale in spring, protect your crop with floating row covers. This white polypropylene garden fabric allows sunshine and rain through, but keeps bugs out. Just lay the fabric loosely over the plants. Hold the fabric down with rocks. The fabric can be re-used each year, so it is a worthwhile investment. Flea beetles don't attack every year, but when they do, they are voracious. The fabric eliminates the problem without chemicals. Later in the season, larvae eat kale leaves, so fabric offers some protection. Once the bug season has passed, take the garden blanket off.

Kale seedlings ready to transplant

Kale will amaze you with its vigor. 

Kale survives after the first frost and gets sweeter, so for the northern Prairie gardener it is an exceptional crop. When other plants in the garden have wilted and died, kale stands tall. October doesn't scare kale. We have harvested kale in early November! The top leaves are the most tender, but if you always harvest from the bottom, the kale plant will grow taller and taller and keep producing.

We grow kale every year in the garden, even if I have to buy a few bedding plants. The garden would be incomplete without kale.  

Hardy kale grows well in Edmonton.
Kale is incredibly nutritious.  It is a powerhouse of nutrients per calorie! Sometimes called wild cabbage, kale is loaded with anti-oxidants and anti-inflamatories. It has beta- carotine, Vitamin K and C, lutein, iron and calcium. When you eat kale, you know you are eating the real thing.  Kale is solid, dense and GREEN.

Cook kale with chickpeas, tomatoes, spices. Add a few raw leaves without the tough stems to berry smoothies.Tender leaves of young kale can be added to salads in springtime. Add mature kale to cooked dishes. Tear the leaves from the tough vein and put them in pasta or bean dishes. Add kale to soups and stews. The Portuguese make delicious kale stews "Caldo Verde". Use kale in the delicious Greek "Horta". This recipe hails from Crete, and we make it with onions, instead of leeks. Serve salmon on a bed of horta.  

Freeze kale for winter nutrition. Use the curly top parts of each kale leaf, and return the tougher lower stems and veins to the compost. I freeze a few leaves with ripe bananas and herbs into small packets for winter smoothies. Recently, I have even made kale chips in the microwave....not bad....

Still harvesting kale in Edmonton garden on October 8, 2015!

Update: Still loving the kale but this year we discovered collards and they are just as fantastic to grow, and taste even better! 

Check out my short video on how to grow great garlic in Alberta.