If you're looking for more heart-healthy fall vegetables to grow, try growing kale (Brassica oleracea / Cruciferae). Another cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, kale is basically a non-heading species of cabbage that's incredibly cold resistant and insanely healthy. Plus, believe it or not, kale actually has a great, earthy flavor that's unlike any other.
Growing Kale 101
Since it's the most cold hardy of the leafy greens, growing kale is actually quite easy. For the most part, to grow kale you just need to meet some minimal soil and temperature needs and wait for plants to mature and sweeten throughout the fall and winter. If you've never tried growing kale before, here are a few no-nonsense tips to help you get the most from your kale crop:
- Plant in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
- Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, 3 inches apart, and in 18 to 24-inch rows.
- Note to those in hotter climates: kale bolts quickly in heat but, if allowed to go to seed, it can self-sow in cooler, moister climates (like the Northwest).
- To harvest kale, remove leaves as needed and let the rest grow.
Why Grow Kale: The Health Benefits of Kale
If you're growing kale to add another nutritious leafy green to your diet, you're on the right track. The health benefits of kale are widely known, as it's a nutritional powerhouse that's loaded with vitamins A, K and C. In fact, a single serving of kale has over 1200% the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and almost 200% the RDA for vitamin A. Plus, like other heart-healthy cruciferous vegetables, it's a good plant source of protein, B vitamins, potassium, omega 3 fatty acids and even vitamin E. Honestly, kale is probably one of the most nutritious vegetables you can add to your garden. And, if you plan it right, you can grow kale year round!
For growing specifications for growing kale (like preferred soil pH, planting depths and germination rates), check out the Gardening Guides page.
(Images graciously provided by Ayla87 and caltiva. Thanks!)