Of all the crops in the garden, I think the most abundant right now is the kale. Back in February, I tried starting a few seeds at the time I started the tomatoes and peppers. That was a pretty big failure: I ended up with thin, leggy seedlings that amounted to nothing. I April, I direct sowed a four-foot row of kale, and wow, has it ever grown up!

A healthy row of curly kale!

 Kale would make a pretty perfect crop for folks with even the most limited outdoor space. The plants don’t mind being crowded close together (I thinned them only to an inch apart,) and with just a 14-inch pot on a patio, with even just partial sunlight, you’ll harvest about eight meals worth of kale in a growing season.

The plants are also beautiful and can add subtle color in an ornamental bed in the same way hostas do. My variety, Blue Curled Scotch Kale, has (naturally) a blue-green tinge. Black kale (also called dino kale or lacinato) has a deep, dark green tint, and there are purple and even reddish varieties as well. They’ll last well past the first frost, and the flavor of the leaves even improves as fall turns into winter. My favorite seed company, Baker Creek, has a good selection – it’s not too late to enjoy kale this year!

So lush!

With such a great amount of kale to use, I’ve been able to get three meals out of this row already. I even gave away a healthy bundle. I love kale – I’ll probably plant another row later this month to take us through the fall and early winter, when I’ll hopefully have some great root vegetables and potatoes to make soup with. I’d also like to try this marinated kale salad from Hounds in the Kitchen. During these 90+ degree days of summer, though, we’ve been eating it raw quite a bit, and I’m always a fan of baked kale chips:

Spread washed and dried leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinke with salt and pepper, and maybe some sweet paprika, then bake in a 400 degree oven until just crisp and not yet brown.

Here’s to many more months of delicious, nutritious harvest from this dusting of tiny seeds.

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