Kale and cabbage are good eating and good looking

Kale and cabbage are good eating and good looking

It’s fascinating to me that we are eating a plant cultivar that was popular even before the Middle Ages! Kale is the new buzzwords at trendy restaurants. Kale chips and fermented cabbage (kimchi) and sauerkraut are in mainstream grocery stores, and you can even find kale salad at Chick-fil-A!

Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe, according to our friends at Wikipedia. They were eating curly leaved varieties of cabbage and flat leaf varieties in Greece in the fourth century B.C. These forms, referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered ancestors for modern kales. Russians brought their kale into Canada and the U.S. in the 19th century.

Kale or leaf cabbage are vegetable cultivars of the plant species Brassica cleracea. They have green or purple leaves, but kale leaves do not form a head as do cabbage leaves. Kales are thought to be like wild cabbage. Some varieties of kale can reach a height of 6-7 feet while others are tiny. While all kale and cabbage are considered edible, some taste much better than others. Many of the plants you see being sold as “ornamental cabbage or kale” could be eaten but may not taste as good as varieties bred for eating. The ornamental options are grown mainly for their colorful leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender blue or violet in the inside of the rosette.

Now, talk about good for you, a small serving of raw kale gives you about 50 calories and at least 20 percent of your daily needs of Vitamin A, C, K, B6, folate and manganese. Its also power packed with Vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorous. 

Cabbage is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. It helps lower cholesterol and gives anti-carcinogenic aid when eaten gently steamed or raw.

Think you like kale? In northern Germany in the region of Dithmarschen, in most towns there are social clubs that celebrate kale in the fall. There are festivals where “kale kings and queens” are crowned. They have “kale tours” that involve visiting local country inns and eating kale stew with German sausage and schnapps.

If you search “world wide cabbage festivals” online, there are too many to list.

Whether you are planning on using kale and cabbage as ornamentals or as a staple in the kitchen there are certain things that these super plants need to grow well. Wait to plant them as the temperatures drop. When night temperatures are still warm, the plants can become leggy and leaf colors pale. Ornamental kale is genetically the same as edible kale. Both cabbage and kale are from the same genus as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Look for plants that aren’t root-bound. Plant in a spot where there is full sun with good drainage and where they are easily seen from the top. I didn’t like cabbage as a child, and we never even heard the word “kale,” but they both put a smile on my face nowadays.