Help your May plants grow big and crunchy!
Here’s what’s ahead:
Do you prefer to keep your garden a device-free zone? We get that. We’ve drawn up a cheat sheet with the most important information about sowing your thyme, so you can take it with you into the garden. Just print out our quick start guide:
The “Nero di Toscana” variety of kale might not be big enough to give you proper shade on these warm Spring days…but this stately green cabbage is definitely too tall to hang out in your flower pot. Now that we’ve reached the end of May, you can sow your palm kale outside to get started with your vitamin-rich meal-prep for the wintertime, and grow a plant that in just a few months will be your little wintry reminder of warmer days.
Quick Tips at a Glance:
Seed depth: 2 cm, dark germ
Germination temperature: 15-20 °C
Germination time: 7-14 days
Not suitable for pot culture
Enrich the bed with compost, fertilising again and again in between
Location: sunny to semi-shady
Note the crop rotation: no cruciferous vegetables should have been grown in the same bed in the last 3 years
Growing in trays or no-till possible
Prick out: As soon as the first real cabbage leaves have formed after the cotyledons
Final planting distance: 40 cm in all directions
Possibly seed tray and potting soil for pre-culture
Compost to enrich the bed
Pre-culture in shells
Sowing your palm kale seeds in trays will increase their germination. As soon as the plants are a few centimetres tall, they should be transplanted to a proper bed.
First fill your seed tray with potting soil and use your finger to poke holes 2 cm apart in the soil. Then tear your calendar sheet into snippets, each with a seed and put them in the holes. Seal, water and keep moist until germination.
You can place the bowl inside on the windowsill or outside in a sheltered, warm place. But avoid too much sun exposure. This can harm the seedlings.
It is also possible to sow the seeds directly into a bed pre-treated with compost. To do this, just draw grooves in the soil at a distance of 45 cm and a depth of 2 cm and. Then place 1-2 seeds every 40 cm in the grooves, close the grooves, and water the well. To avoid gaps, you can also sow the seeds closer together and separate them later.
Aim to provide the following conditions for your kale:
Humus rich soil
Sunny to semi-shady
No cruciferous vegetables should have been grown in the same bed in the last 3 years (e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, radish, radishes, arugula)
Good: potato, leek, chard, spinach, lettuce, celery, tomato
Bad: Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, French beans, peas, onions
So your favourite palm cabbage seedlings have grown a few centimetres and developed the first real cabbage leaves. Congratulations! Now what?? Well, it's time to move them into their final home!
Prepare your bed by loosening the soil, clearing the weeds away, and working in some compost with a rake. Then you can lift the plants out of the seed tray with a pricking stick and plant them 40 cm apart in your bed. Don't forget to water those thirsty plants!
Even if you have sown your palm cabbage a little narrower in the bed, you should stretch it to 40 cm by lifting any seedlings that are too close together and planting them elsewhere. As always, you need to water the transplanted plants well. You can also mulch them with sod clippings to keep them from drying out.
Water regularly, avoid water-logging
If the kale becomes unstable, pile up some soil around the stalk
Fertilise regularly (compost, organic fertiliser, no animal manure)
Cover young plants with fine-meshed culture protection nets so that cabbage white butterflies cannot get to them and lay eggs.
Clubroot: Discard infested plants with household waste and do not grow cabbage in the same bed for the next 6 years. To prevent this, you can also put algae lime in the planting holes.
Fleas, cabbage aphids, cabbage moths, cabbage flies, cabbage moths, cabbage whites: just attach close-meshed crop protection nets as a preventive measure.
Check leaves early for cabbage white butterflies, cabbage moths (and their eggs) and crush them. Collect caterpillars and release those little guys into the wild – but far away from your vegetable garden.
Plant tomatoes, celery or thyme between the cabbage plants: the smell will distract cabbage white butterflies and turn them away from your kale.
You will be able to harvest individual leaves from late autumn into winter. First harvest the outer or lower leaves, as new ones will grow from the inside.
The taste improves when it is cold, as the starch in the leaves is converted into sugar. Harvest better in severe, long-lasting frost.
The stem and unsightly leaves can be fed to animals such as rabbits.
The "Nero di Toscana" variety can be prepared just as you would other types of kale. One of its prime culinary characteristics is its particularly mild taste, which makes it highly versatile. You can use the young leaves raw in a salad, for example with tangerines and walnuts.
For larger leaves, it is best to first separate the finer parts of the leaf from the stalk with a knife and cook them separately. You can use the palm cabbage as an ingredient in hearty stews with all kinds of winter vegetables and potatoes or as the main ingredient in a hearty pasta sauce:
Here’s what you’ll need:
400g palm cabbage leaves
200 grams of carrots
100 grams of spring onions
1 clove garlic
1 chilli (according to taste)
Curry, allspice, cumin
Possibly cooking cream or coconut milk
And here's what you do:
Start by washing your kale leaves, removing the stalk and cutting it into strips. The stalk is also edible, but takes longer to cook than the leaves do. Plus it has a quite woody flavour, so we’ll leave it out.
Grate the carrots and chop the chilli, garlic and spring onions.
Fry the vegetables in a pan. Season with salt and curry to taste.
Deglaze with water and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add some liquid if necessary.
Then season with salt, allspice and some cumin to taste.
If you like, you can add some volume to the sauce with some cooking cream or coconut milk.
Fold in the cooked noodles and serve.
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