Edible kale should be planted in the cooler months.
Edible kale should be planted in the cooler months. Contributed

Ornamental kale not great for eating

ONE of the best things about working in a garden centre is that I'm constantly learning about new plants.

These plants may not be new release or even new to you, but there are so many plants out there that each day it feels like I'm being told or shown something new.

Vegetables are especially hard for me to keep up on.

There are just so many different varieties out there, it would be impossible to know them all.

One which has recently come to my attention is kale.

Now if someone last year asked for kale, I would have told them that my lovely ornamental kale is only available as the weather gets cooler.

Even though it is closely related to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, it is not recommended that you eat ornamental kale.

Ornamental kale looks very much like brightly coloured cabbages, with white or purple-pink centres and green outer leaves. The heads are made up of closely packed leaves with frilly or serrated edges.

Ornamental kale is a popular garden plant that enjoys the cold weather and is commonly seen in southern or European gardens as a boarder plant. I personally love them in a pot surrounded by white asslyum.

I have recently found out that there is also edible Kale and this edible kale is one of the best nutrient-rich vegetables around.

During the Second World War , the cultivation of edible kale was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. It was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.

Even though edible kale has been around for years I didn't realise I was enjoying it on a regular basis. I have only known edible kale as boerenkool. Boerenkool is a Dutch word which means farmer's cabbage.

Edible kale is still part of the cabbage or Brassica oleracea Acephala group.

It can be green or purple, but the central leaves do not form a head.

Edible kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. It is also a good source of carotenoids.

Edible kale contains sulforaphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. It is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

Growing edible kale is very easy and can be done in pots or the garden. As with any plantings, make sure you use a good-quality garden soil or potting mix, a complete slow-release organic fertiliser when planting and liquid fertilise fortnightly with a complete organic liquid fertiliser.

Plant edible kale during the colder months as it tastes sweeter after being exposed to a frost.

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