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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

My Super Kale

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Kale is not only a super leafy green but also a super crop for the backyard garden!

Freshly picked young leaves of Red Russian Kale • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019

If you grow food in a cool climate region where winter backyards get frosty but not dormant under thick snow, you probably have kale all year long in your veggie garden. I love all varieties of kale, but the one I get the most successful yield in my garden is the Red Russian Kale. I can’t explain why; it’s just the “super” one! They are not really red, they have a purple stem and blue-green oak-shaped leaves (which turn purple-ish in cooler temperatures). Compared to the curled varieties, the leaves are not as compact, so there are fewer hiding spots for bugs to nest, making them less prone to pest attacks and easier to wash. Red Russian kale is an heirloom variety with an earthy flavour supplying rich, healthy nutrients.

Kale from the garden • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20

Kale is the most nutritious leafy green ever! It is packed with vitamins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. Part of the brassica family (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, etc.), kale comes in many different types like curly leaf (in blue or purple), flat leaf (Red Russian) and bumpy (Tuscan). It can be used like spinach and is excellent in many dishes like pasta, pizzas, pastry rolls, cured meats, quiches, soups, smoothies, and desserts. Baby leaves make fabulous green pesto and salads. Mature leaves are best without the hard stem and cooked. The curled varieties make amazing chips slightly baked with vegetable oil and spices. My mother-in-law is native to the Netherlands and introduced me to a delicious traditional dish called "boerenkoolstamppot", which is mashed potatoes mixed with curly kale, served with "rookworst" smoked sausages. I use any variety of kale as a side veggie with meat. A quick lunch I love sometimes during kale season is an egg "poelée" (pan fry) with kale and potatoes sprinkled with cheese and spring onions.

Home cooking with kale • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018-19


Growing kale is quite easy. The only little things to know are pests like cabbage moths and aphids. When the weather warms up and you see some white butterflies in the yard, it is best to protect any brassicas with fine netting and plant alliums like spring onions, leeks and chives close by. I sow seeds in autumn but also early spring. Frost and a little bit of snow won’t kill seedlings, they will slowly build roots and when the weather warms up, they grow pretty fast. I love to sprinkle a big handful of seeds in a veggie bed, and when I get millions of baby kale, I thin them up by picking them from bunch to bunch. Mature plants will form pods full of seeds to collect for the next round!

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