Why Every Gardener on the Coast Should Grow Kale

Patch's new gardening column by Elkus Ranch educator Julie Mathiasen takes a look at the leafy green vegetable that's easy to grow and helps prevent cancer.

By Julie Mathiasen

A lot of people think of kale as a cool season crop but on our coastside we can grow kale year-round. We grow it year-round at , and I grow kale all year in El Granada where I live.

The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Kale has 36 calories per one cup serving.

Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, kale is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health promoting, sulfur-containing phyto nutrients.

It is very easy to grow. Kale grows to 30 inches tall with long, upright, curly, ruffled leaves used as “greens.” Kale grows very fast, because you’re not harvesting a flower or a fruit, you’re harvesting mere leaves. You can harvest it all through the growing season, taking leaves as needed, while letting the plant live to keep making more.

Kale does not form a head like cabbage. It grows almost everywhere and thrives in cool weather. The plant will continue to grow when the outer side leaves are picked off for cooking.

Kale is very high in vitamin K and vitamin A and is a great leafy vegetable that is said to help prevent cancer. Human population studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, are associated with lower incidence of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer.

Sulforaphane, the sulphur-containing phytonutrient that is formed when cruciferous vegetables such as kale are chopped or chewed, triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibits chemically induced breast cancers, and induces colon cancer cells to cease.

Roasted kale leaves are a popular way to eat kale. To roast kale leaves, coat the leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seed. Roast in oven at 250 degrees until crispy. Store in an airtight container to keep leaves crisp.

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Carolyn Battaini June 11, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Thanks for sharing the information about growing and nutritional info on kale. I will be planting some this weekend! Carolyn Battaini
Dee June 11, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Nice to have a gardening column on Patch. Would love to see some articles on growing natives on the coast. Also, how do you get wildflowers to grow? I throw seeds down but never get anything. Do I need to plant seedlings to get something? And are wildflowers annuals or perennials here on the coast? Thanks.
Laura McHugh June 12, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I'll give the kale chips a try, but I think I am the only person on the coastside who does not love this veggie and the coastal kale salad that is so popular.
Christa Bigue (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Laura, everyone raves about New Leaf's coastal kale salad, predominantly displayed on ice in the deli section, it's so popular! I haven't tried it yet but will give it a try. If you want the health benefits of kale but don't care for the texture and taste, try putting one sprig in a blender with fruit, vanilla yogurt, for a smoothie. It may come out greenish in color but you can't taste the kale one bit and viola, you're getting your vitamin A,K and the cancer fighting benefits of kale.
Laura McHugh June 12, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Thanks Christa. I will try this blender version too. I just don't care for the salad despite many tries.


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