We’ve found Kale to be one of the easiest, most resilient and plentiful leaf vegetables to grow here at camp. Each winter there’s an abundance of leaves just waiting to be picked and turned into something delicious.
We sow the seeds April onwards and by late October we are ready to harvest and enjoy all the health benefits of this amazing plant. Providing our bodies with calcium, iron, antioxidants and a multitude of other nutrients it’s no wonder it’s regarded as a superfood! You can continue to harvest well into April so it’s a great green side dish for our first summer camp adventurers in the Spring.
If you’ve never grown it and have a little outdoor space you should definitely give it a go. Roughly six plants should provide enough Kale for a family of four through the winter months. There are lots of different varieties to choose from as well. Here at camp we grow Red Russian, Westland Winter, Nero di Toscana and Rote Krauser ( try Tamar Organics in Cornwall for seeds here.)
Cabbage White caterpillars can make a meal of it and the slugs enjoy a nibble so it’s important to look after the young plants with some manual slug removal at night and we recommend some wool pellets around the stem to make it a little less accessible. Other than we’ve found it requires very little in the way of maintenance apart from staking for support. The curly Kale varieties like Red Russian and Westland Winter take a bit of preparation to ensure there are no caterpillars hiding among the curls so it you’re short of dinner prep time best to stick with the Nero variety!
Here are a few recipes for Kale we have on repeat here and recommend trying:
Sarah Raven’s Kale and Chickpea Curry - when it’s cold outside this dish is the ultimate comfort food - the fish sauce isn’t essential so can be suitable for vegans too and if you can’t get your hands on lemongrass not to worry.
Dishing up the Dirt’s Kale Salad - got to love a recipe that requests you lightly massage the kale! This is so tasty as a side to a multitude of meals and can be easily adapted to go with whatever’s in your fridge/larder. The Dishing up the Dirt blog is brilliant to browse for recipes and inspiration about growing your own and they’ve published a cookbook too which gets a huge thumbs up from us for inspiring ways to cook and eat veg!
River Cottage Kale Crisps - these are just the ticket as a tasty snack and alternative to potato crisps.