Curly Cale (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group)
Eaten for over 2000 years kale is making a comeback as one of the most trendiest and healthiest foods.
As one of the brassicas ‘curly kale’ is very popular due to it’s health benefits – packed full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants it is full of healthy benefits (for example it contains more vitamin c than an orange !!)
In addition Boerenkool – Curly Kale is used to help people detox, fight against cancer and recommended as part of a healthy diet by nutritionists.
As one of the ‘brassicas’ (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) it is one of the most ‘traditional’ foods.
But if you want to grow something differently (and make some really unusual winter meals) it is very easy to grow, will look great on your allotment or vegetable garden and maybe unusually you will actually want it to freeze !!
Lots of varieties…
There are very many different types of Boerenkool – Curly Kale you can use in your boerenkool – for example there are:
- Kale Westland – if you want to harvest early)
- Winterbor F1 hybride – which makes a very dark boerenkool
- Redbor F1 hybride – which is darkpurple in colour and turns dark green when cooked
- Nero di Toscane – often called the palm kale
- Russian Kale – less ‘curly’, very hard and with a long harvest period it’s more than 1 meter high
The Curly Kale (F1 Reflex)
We especially like the F1 reflex type because you can use it in the summer in a salad using the tasty ‘baby’ leaves and in the winter as part of the boerenkool dish. (Available from suttons )
How to grow Boerenkool – Curly Cale
Most brassicas (like kale) require good quality soil – try to add compost in the winter months to get the best possible yealds.
But the advantage of curly kale (like F1 reflex) is that it’s a ‘less demanding’ crop and you can get away with poorer soil.
Early or Late….
Either pre-sow under glass in March or sow them outside from April. They tolerate both full sun and semi-shade and will germinate in about 10 days
Like all seeds they are very popular to birds you will need to protect them until they reach about 30 cm high.
Or of course you could really ‘show off’ and go for the ultimate bedding like the one from Harrod Horticultural (shown right)
Curly Kale is worth showing off !!
Or alternatively you can also start them late, and sow them in June. For example if you’ve tried growing kapucijners – you can plant them afterwards on the same soil
Curly Kale is very hardy and frost resistant. It will taste better if harvested after 1 or 2 nights of frost.
Beware of pests…
But the biggest problem tends to be whitefly – which will lay its eggs on the underside of the leaves.
- If you plant is late (option B) you will have less of a problem
- or alternatively you will need to cover the plants with a very fine mesh. Yes you can simply clean the leaves (if you can face it) but prevention is better than cure.
- either harvest early sown curly kale in the autumn months,
- or late sown curly kale in the winter months.
It will taste best if eaten the same day it’s harvested (but you can freeze the leaves)
If you have some left over in Feb try to harvest the lot (and freeze it). The leaves turn bitter if harvested to late.
Hope for a cold winter !!!
The beauty of curly kale is that it will taste better after a night of frost – that is because the starches in the leaves turn to ‘sugar’ and will make it taste softer and sweeter.
(which you will really taste when making boerenkool
- How to prepare boerenkool
- Where to buy curly kale (F1 Reflex) seeds