School House About Robbins Farm Arlington Agriculture Veggie Lifecycles Growing Patterns Vegetable Familes Garden Bugs Basic Garden Tools Photo Synthesis Robbins Farm Garden Blog

Kale

Kale is one of the two "old timers" in the Cabbage family of vegetables growing here in Robbins Farm Garden. The other cabbage old-timer is collard greens, a very close relative, profiled here.

Many people don't even think of kale as related to cabbages, because it doesn't have a head, that solid ball of leaves at their center that characterizes what we call cabbages today.

But kale is part of the family. In fact, it and collard greens come closest to what the original members of this family looked like back thousands of years ago when they were first grown on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in southeastern Europe and Asia Minor. Cabbages with solid heads are, in truth, only a fairly recent development. They were first bred in northern Europe only about 900 years ago.

The name kale comes from "kohl" the German word for cabbage

A hardy plant

Kale is one of the most hardy plants in the garden. It has strong built-in resistance to many of the bugs and diseases that sometimes cause problems for its neighbors.

Kale is also often the last of the leafy plants left standing when the gardening season comes to a close. Kale leaves often taste their best, in fact, when they're harvested after a frost. Freezing temperatures cause them to lose some of their bitterness and taste a bit sweeter.

How it's eaten

Kale is eaten both raw and cooked. Raw, it's eaten mostly in salads. Cooked, it can be steamed or sauted. It's also often put into soups and stews.

Kale is one of the most nutritious of the many vegetables you can eat. It contains lots of vitamin C — ounce for ounce, more than two times that of orange juice — plus vitamin A and a bunch of important minerals like manganese, copper, calcium and potassium.

If you haven't made kale a part of your diet, you should think about giving it a try.