Grow your own crop of ver­sa­tile kale

Central Telegraph - - GARDEN - with Angie Thomas

WHETHER you whizz it up in a green smoothie, use in a stir fry, bake into chips, add to a frit­tata or mix in with pasta or rice dishes, kale is a healthy and ver­sa­tile vegie that has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar over re­cent years.

Kale is rich in vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and di­etary fi­bre, as well as hav­ing the health ben­e­fits of other plants in the bras­sica fam­ily.

Kale can be sown di­rectly where it is to grow or sown into in trays filled with seed rais­ing mix. The seedlings can then be trans­planted into a sunny or semi shade spot when about 4–6cm high. Kale can also be grown in con­tain­ers, mak­ing it ideal for court­yard and bal­cony gar­dens. Not only for the vegie patch, Yates Kale has at­trac­tive grey fo­liage and pro­vides a lovely con­trast when mixed with flow­ers in gar­den beds.

It’s im­por­tant to feed leafy ve­g­ies like kale with a ni­tro­gen-rich com­plete plant food, with ni­tro­gen be­ing the key nu­tri­ent that pro­motes green leaf growth. A ‘com­plete’ plant food is one that con­tains the three main el­e­ments for plant growth – ni­tro­gen, phos­pho­rus and potas­sium. Seaweed alone does not pro­vide plants with all the nu­tri­tion they re­quire for healthy growth and can re­sult in poorly per­form­ing plants and a re­duced har­vest.

Pro­tect young kale seedlings from snails and slugs with a light sprin­kling of snail and slug pel­lets. And keep an eye out for small white but­ter­flies which flut­ter around the vegie patch. They are usu­ally cab­bage white but­ter­flies, which lay their yel­low eggs on to the leaves of bras­sica ve­g­ies like kale. Tiny cater­pil­lars hatch and soon grow into green cater­pil­lars, about 3cm long, which can dec­i­mate leaves. Angie Thomas is a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist at Yates.

PHOTO: THINK­STOCK

◗ Kale is a ver­sa­tile veg­etable that is per­fect for win­ter gar­dens.

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