Krazy for Kale

Kale is a leafy vegetable that grows in the form of a rosette during the winter months of Florida. Now, this healthy veggie is not a big commercial crop in Florida but is grown by many gardeners throughout the state. This is because kale prefers to grow in cooler climates, unlike the warm subtropical and tropical climates we have here in Florida. This being said, it is surprisingly easy to grow kale in Florida. It can be grown throughout Florida, but should be grown during the coolest months of the area that you live in. Generally, it is best planted sometime from September through March. Kale can be harvested about two and a half to three months after planting. Once kale is matured, it can be continually harvested until it begins to bolt.

The best varieties of kale to grow in Florida are ones that are slower to bolt and grow well in our milder winters. Bolting is when the plant produces flowers which start the process of making new baby rosettes of kale. By the plant focusing all of its energy on flowering instead of its leafy growth, the leaves become bitter and the harvest is done. The different varieties that are best suited to be grown in Florida are Tuscan, Dwarf Blue Curled Vates, Winterbor, and Red Russian. Tuscan kale is also commonly called Lacinato or dinosaur kale. This variety of kale has skinny, crinkly textured, blueish green to black colored leaves. Dwarf Blue Curled Vates is a low-growing, compact variety that has nicely textured, finely curled, blueish green leaves. Winterbor kale has large, thick, blueish green leaves and can grow up to two feet tall. The Red Russian variety is known for its different red-purple colored leaves.

Kale is considered a superfood as it provides a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, minerals, iron, and calcium. When shopping for kale in the grocery store, look for leaves that are moist, crisp, and unwilted. Make sure to always wash your kale under cold water before eating or cooking it. After purchasing this superfood, it is best kept in the refrigerator in a loose plastic bag and will stay fresh for about a week. Kale is one of the sweetest flavored of the leafy greens we eat. This vegetable can be eaten raw in salads, fried or baked into healthy chips, or can be added to various dishes like omelets, stir fries, and casseroles. Kale pairs well with ingredients such as garlic, pine nuts, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and farro.

For your enjoyment, try out a kale recipe courtesy of Fresh From Florida!

Did You Know?
• There are also ornamental varieties of kale grown to use for landscaping, greenery, and garnishes.
• Kale is part of the Brassica family, being closely related to cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

Information collected from the following online sources: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services and UF/IFAS

Information compiled by: Avianna Liuzzo

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