Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kale - Decorative and Edible + Garden Party

I bought two heavy cement planters a couple of weeks ago at a yard sale.  Instead of planting them with mums or some other decorative fall plant, I decided to plant kale.  

The hardest part was moving the planters to their new location.  I was determined to do it without Mr. Dream's help - he's been working way too hard lately and I feel guilty asking him to do anything extra.
First, I tried using a wagon.  That required lifting the planter up and over into the wagon.  Let me just say that my biceps got a Gold's Gym worthy workout.  Whew!

For the second planter, I pulled out the hand trucks.  That was sooooo much easier.

If I had planned ahead or not been in a rush for instant gratification, I could have grown my kale from seed. Instead, I bought ten small plants - five for each planter.  That does NOT allow for the recommended spacing, but I'm figuring on cutting the outer leaves on a fairly regular basis.  We'll see how it goes.  Three plants per container might have worked better. 

I'll try to remember to do an update in a month or so.  By then, the planters should be looking lush and colorful.

Lots of gardeners use kale can be used as an ornamental.  In zone 7 and above it can be used as a winter annual.  Experts say it looks especially nice with pansies and dianthus.  I planted my kale with... more kale.  I got three varieties and unfortunately, the tags don't tell you what's what.  They labeled all three flowering kale.  Well that's helpful.  One of the varieties is definitely a curly one.

Kale with purple mums from Arabella Weddings Blog
I do want my kale to look attractive, but mainly, I want to eat it. It's very nutritious!!!  I especially love using kale in green smoothies. Note:  I was going to link to my previous post about green smoothies and can't find one.  Can it be that I have not posted about green smoothies?  Oh, my.  They are fabulous and don't taste "green" at all.  I'll post about them soon - maybe even this week.

It's pretty wilt resistant so lots of restaurants use it to make their salad bar look prettier. At home, it would be pretty as part of a serving platter arrangement.

from Sullivan and Murphy

Tips on Growing Kale
Small Print Disclaimer:  
I have never grown kale before.  
All the information here is gleamed from my research.
I'll let you know how it all works out. 

Kale is not crazy about heat, so, for now, I put the planters in a spot that receives only morning sun.  It's still pretty hot here in Georgia.

from Kennedy's Country Gardens

The cool fall weather brings out the color. Kale will hold their brilliant color all the way into spring.  You can grow them in pots to decorate your porch or patios, or plant a group together right in your garden beds. They grow 1 to 2 feet tall.

from Better Homes and Gardens
My kale should do well even in the winter. Around December, I'll probably move the planters to a full sun location.  It's one of the most frost tolerant of vegetables.  It's fine with temperatures as low as 20 degrees. Some sites said they would survive as low as 5 or 10 degrees depending on the variety. If it gets really cold, I'll probably cover or move mine just to be safe.

Kale actually needs the cool weather. It needs several nights of frost to make it sweet. The frost helps break the sugars into starches.

from Southern Living
To harvest, you can cut a few leaves at a time when the plant is 8 to 10 inches high. You start with the outside leaves first. Or you can harvest the entire plant.  Cut 2 inches above the soil and the plant will sprout new leaves in 1 to 2 weeks. Harvest kale before it gets old and tough. 

from My Sweet Savannah - She has more examples on this post!
 The good thing about having my own kale plants is that the fresher the plant, the sweeter it is.  The flavor gets stronger the longer it's refrigerated.  Who knows just how fresh it is when you get it in the grocery store.

from Garden Delights
 Now - - - Time for Porch and Garden Party #8!

 Link up posts you have 
about anything to do with porches or gardens 
- door decorations, nature, sunrooms...
indoor and outdoor plant posts are welcome, too!

Lots of you are decorating your doors and porches for fall - please link up!

I've joined in with the following parties:
100 Ideas Under $100 at Beyond the Picket Fence
Strut your Stuff at Fireflies and Jelly Beans
Hooking Up With HOH at House of Hepworths
It’s Party Time  at Pony Tails and Fish Scales
Strut Your Stuff Thursday at Somewhat Simple
Thrifty Thursday at Tales from Bloggeritaville
Make It Yours Day at My Backyard Eden
Show and Tell at Blue Cricket Designs
Show Us What You're Workin' With at Me and My Bucket
Creative Share Wednesday at Trendy Treehouse


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