Kale cabbage in the urban garden
The kale cabbage is a variety of leaf cabbage, a fact that allows us from the same plant collect for many months delicious leaves, thus optimizing the precious space of our balcony or terrace. It is an ideal plant to cultivate in any balcony and any space whatever the experience you have as an urban horticulturist because it is a very simple plant, generous and easy to care for.
How to cultivate kale cabbage
What should we bear in mind when cultivating good kale in our urban garden?
The most practical thing is to start from seedling, which should be about twenty centimetres high at the time of transplant and about three pairs of leaves already developed. The best time to plant the kale cabbage is a few weeks before the cold and the first frost but in the temperate areas, the planting season lasts almost all year.
The kale cabbage, like other crucifers, has a powerful pivoting root that is going to develop quite a lot, so it is advisable to use for cultivation containers about 25 cm. deep and about 12-15 litres of capacity at least, we have to take into account that the plant will live two years. It can be a plastic or ceramic pot, or in a practical and modern pot of geotextile fabric.
It does not need particularly rich soil, with a good compound substrate and a compost of earthworm humus will be sufficiently fertilized until after the first harvest, at which time we will begin to add a little more humus every three or four weeks. It is a fairly common procedure in plants of such a long period of production being this biannual cycle. In place of earthworm, humus can be used guano bat and seabirds, or in the case of composting, we can add our own compost. Although all this with moderation, because an excess in the nutrition of the plant will bring problems of plagues.
Being a plant native to northern Europe it will not be necessary to protect it from the cold, although it might be necessary to put a tutor of bamboo or any other material when it grows. Perhaps, the most delicate point of the kale cabbage is the need for constant humidity, always be careful not to flood the pot because we could cause rotting or asphyxiation of the roots.
As a guide, it can be said that for a person who eats col kale regularly cultivating about three or four plants is a good measure to be supplied. In case of punctual excess of production, it is possible to freeze perfectly as much fresh as passed to the steam. If it is used only for smoothies and green juices, one plant per person will suffice.
Characteristics and properties of kale cabbage
The cabbage kale is cruciferous, of the same family as rocket, mustard or radish among many others. It is a biannual plant.
It takes two years to complete its life cycle, from sowing until the seed is ripe. That means it will be productive for two years.
It is a cut vegetable, has a stem from which are born leaves of between 30 and 50 cm. that we will collect. As we remove leaves, the stem grows in height and will produce more leaves under the eye.
Originally from cold areas, this cabbage adapts perfectly to most climates and soils, there is also a wide variety it, there are curly, smooth, green and purple.
Kale is so fashionable because it is simply delicious, healthy and very versatile in the kitchen. It is a vegetable rich in Calcium, which together with large amounts of Vitamin C the body can fix correctly to the bones. It is a great source of Vitamins A and K and is one of the vegetables that provide more Iron. It is alkaline, so it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also low in calories and has a high fibre content.
Kale in the kitchen
In the kitchen, it offers us innumerable possibilities. Although in the north of Europe, where it comes from, it is eaten cooked like cabbage, currently it is used in smoothies, in chips, raw in salads, steamed, in pâtés… it is important not to boil it so as not to lose its properties, so in case of cooking it, we will do it steamed.
A very curious culinary trick is that the lack of intense cold becomes a little bitter and lack of flavour. Even so, it is very good for smoothies, combining it with other vegetables, but if we put it in the freezer for at least one day, this bitterness disappears and notably increases its flavour and keeps its fresh texture.
Here’s a traditional German recipe for Kol kale.
- First, we steam the kale cabbage until it is soft, while we can boil potatoes, preferably yellow flesh, as they are better textured for this dish.
- In a large casserole, fry a few finely chopped onions and a large piece of smoked bacon. Originally fried with goose fat, but good olive oil also serves.
- When all the bacon fat is well melted and the onion is done, add the boiled kale and lower the heat to the minimum. Add a little water to cover and let it cook for about two hours trying to prevent it from burning and until it is well cooked. Add a little more water if necessary. Add salt, pepper and if we want, Dijon mustard.
- Almost to the end, we will put the sausages, preferably smoked and the potatoes peeled and cut. Sometimes served very dry, sometimes more liquid, even as a stew.