Kale is keeling over

rather droopy kale

In between showers this week, the allotment has had the attention while the home garden dwindles into late summer.

There’s cropping to do every time we visit: beans, courgettes, marrow, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions and raspberries. Even the children don’t mind going when there’s things to eat.

But it seemed a good time, as the ground is getting cleared, to try and put at least a few brassicas in for winter leaves. Hail to the Kale.

The kids, very surprisingly, love a bit of curly kale. Despite its reputation as bitter animal fodder, when steamed for just a few minutes, or pan-fried with garlic and bacon, it’s just delicious. But I’ve not actually successfully grown any yet.

I’ve tried direct sowing various varieties of kale this year already, and only around three have survived, looking very peaky under single cloches to keep the pigeons off.

Back home, earlier this month, I sowed a tray of Italian Black Tuscan/Nero di Toscana kale, which comes up with strappy dark leaves which are delicious picked young.

Kale just keeps coming with new leaves despite cold weather, so is a good crop over winter. The Italian leaves are crinkled like a savoy but without any of the layers and crannies for bugs and slugs to hide in, so easier to prepare.

My seedlings have outgrown their spot in the cold frame, so some have been planted out at the allotment where the spuds have come out, watered-in well, and then covered with a net cloche. They look a little pathetic, but hopefully they will mature for winter without fuss. I’m going to try a few in the flower border gaps at home just to see if they grow. They are attractive enough on the packet, lets see how they shape up in the flesh. . .

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