Cold-hardy and resilient, kale is an easy member of the cabbage family to grow. In Sunnyvale (USDA Zone 9) plant the seeds in November (right before the winter rains). You can set out plants quite early in spring as long as you protect the young plants from severe cold winds with a cover. They will grow steadily for months until the weather gets too warm. You’ll get a second chance to plant kale in the fall, when cool weather brings out a wonderfully sweet, nutty flavor that is unique to these cold-natured plants. Fall is the best time for growing kale in areas where winter doesn’t dip below the teens, or in a cold frame farther north, because the leaves are sweeter when they mature in cooler weather.
In my Sunnyvale garden, I have limited groundsoil, so I plant them in pots.
In the kitchen, kale can be steamed, stir-fried, or substituted for spinach in omelets, casseroles, or even quesadillas. It’s a wonderful addition to smoothies, too.
Kale Italian Lacinato Brassica oleracea
Vigorous dark green to black leaves. Use in soups and stews, or sauteed with olive oil and garlic and tossed with pasta.