this kale

kaleblack magic kaleI planted this kale last summer – sneaking out in the quiet of the morning to get it in. It was the second batch of kale we planted.
Summer plantings are always a challenge, with the harvesting, CSA, market days and maintenance of other crops that is going on. I remember thinking, “Are we getting this in too late? Will it mature?” It did. Our autumn CSA members got crisp, deep green baby kale.
Winter came and the kale stalled off and stopped growing. I did buy a few bunches of carefully selected kale for our family from grocery stores in December and January – that felt funny, but when the body craves green, it craves green.
Spring weather came early this year and with longer days, comes growth. The kale begins to grow again – the collards too. The collards had taken a hard hit by flea beetles last summer, so we never harvested them for market – maybe we did, but just once. This spring, there they were, in all their healthy-proper-collard-looking-glory.
Spring is when we feast on kale sprouts (aka shoots). The once-every-other-day mini-harvest for our family is good for body and soul. Being in the field again is refreshing. The broccoli-like shoots are tender, as are the new kale leaves. The kids snap their outdoor kale shoot snack off the plants while outside. Inside, they enjoy them with our favourite homemade miso dip (see the “Eating” page) and adults around here eat mounds of kale shoot salad (apples, nuts and miso dressing, raisins too if you have them). If we’re cooking kale shoots, it’s usually as a side dish. We saute them with garlic or shallots, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar – so good!
So, this kale, that required such a special output of energy to plant, has totally been worth it. This kale, that I put in while feeling the morning’s sun strength increase,  has given and nourished and given again. You see, after you harvest a shoot, another grows – albeit smaller and a little tougher.
The harvest of kale shoots is a couple months long. We don’t want the plants to flower and go to seed. The Black Magic kale flowered before the rest, so Andy brought those plants to the hens for thharvesting kale shootsem to enjoy. They love their greens!
When the plant is first flowering, the flowers are sweet – the kids discovered this. I always avoided harvesting the flowers because they represented what we didn’t want to happen (making seed). But after the sweet flower discovery, I would make sure to harvest some flowers for the kids for lunch or snack time.
Our kale shoot harvest is nearly over and I’m grateful for this crop. Meanwhile, our first kale planting for 2015 went in a couple of weeks ago. It’s time to start the kale cycle over again! ~Cara

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