Most of the year I wonder why on earth I grow Kale.
It becomes infested with whitefly and aphids in the late summer after it’s been planted out rendering it pretty much inedible – I’ve tried soaking it and scrubbing it but to no avail.
So there it sits, for six months at least, alongside the purple sprouting broccoli with a net over it to stop the pigeons gorging on it. But it also stops me making the effort to take the net off and harvest it! Oh – and it has to be staked too – to stop it keeling over in high winds.
And then just as I’m about to give up on it — it comes good!
After Christmas until the end of March it puts on a new flush of growth and produces tender leaves and tips which can be eaten before they flower – and not a whitefly or aphid in sight!
I grow Black Tuscan Kale or Cavolo Nero but red Russian Kale and Sutherland Kale are also good value; as well as providing much needed greens in the ‘hungry gap’, they’re strikingly decorative.
You sow seed soon – between April and June and then prick out singly into small pots. Plant out to about 3 ft or 90 cm apart.
The leaves are good sauteed and then smothered in a little veg stock with garlic. At this time of year the rib is tender enough to eat – but sometimes I strip the leaves and then cook.
My friend Caroline Fernandez – who runs a community garden in Great Yarmouth – made a chard and coconut soup a week or so ago.
That gave me the idea to try something similar with Kale.
Below is my original recipe – you could make this with any greens including spinach and cabbage.
I added coconut cream, grated ginger and fresh turmeric (but you can use powder if none available) to the celery and kale and then covered them with stock.
After blending it made a velvety green rich and satisfying soup.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500 grams chopped kale or other green brassica type vegetable
- 140 grams sliced and chopped celery
- 1 thumb roughly grated fresh ginger
- 1 thumb roughly grated fresh turmeric (if none available fresh then use 1 tsp of turmeric powde)
- 1 litre vegetable stock (4 tsp bouillon in a litre of water)
- 100 grams creamed coconut
Gently saute the celery and kale in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat for about ten minutes stirring occasionally to make sure it's not sticking on the bottom of the pan.
Add the ginger and turmeric and continue to fry for another couple of minutes until aromatic.
Add stock and broken or chopped up creamed coconut and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 20 minutes to half and hour.
Remove from heat and blend with a stick or blender or put through a mouli legumes.
Correct for seasoning and thin with boiling water/stock if too thick for your liking.
In the garden
There have been other fab harvests of lettuce, ruby chard, miners lettuce or claytonia, oriental mustard leaves, rhubarb, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage, self sown coriander, parsley, red chicory, chrysanthemum greens, stridolo (aka bladderwort).
I have been sowing and planting out broad beans and peas for pea shoots for the first time.
The first lettuce seedlings of this year are about to be planted out under fleece – I have sown more as some of my seed from a permaculture friend, Lee, is no longer viable and failed to germinate. A shame as it was a favourite…
Kohlrabi, early Greyhound cabbage, coriander, calabrese and broccoli rapini have emerged strongly.
My radish which my friend Alison and I planted out from multi sown modules was being eaten. A late night torchlight patrol with Caroline on Sunday revealed tiny but very muscular slugs as the culprits!
Caroline gave me some left over Stuttgart Giant onion sets – they’ve gone in alongside some overwintering red onions. Some spring planted garlic is breaking through the soil next to its bigger autumn planted cousins. A few shallot sets from the Norwich Seed Swap have also been planted.
I am planning on interplanting/sowing carrots between the onions to deter carrot fly – will be doing that in the next week or so.
My saved garlic chive and welsh bunching onion (a larger chive) seed has come up well in modules – in summer they are very pretty planted along the edge of beds. Their flowers provide much needed forage for bees – as will the flowering heads of the broccoli and kale in a couple of weeks time.
In other Allium news I harvested my first spring onions – variety Kyoto Market Garden.
They are highly recommended. And along with chopped coriander brightened up this rustic miso soup.
Miso Soup is easily made
Chop your veg and cover with boiling stock or water and cook until done to your liking (I usually use pumpkin or carrot and some greens – you can add potato too if you like).
Put a couple of tsp of miso in the bottom of the individual small serving bowl along with a tbsp of stock from the soup in the pan and mix it into a smooth runny paste.
Then add the veggies and stock to top it up to make a bowlful.
Garnish with fresh herbs like chopped coriander, or sliced spring onions or parsley and chives.
I like brown rice or barley miso but you can also get sweeter white miso.
Traditional Japanese miso soup usually has soaked and chopped wakame seaweed, cubes of tofu in a fish stock with spring onions sliced thinly on the diagonal as a garnish.