Posts Tagged ‘allotment’

Fascinating Facts: Kale

February 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. Sabellica

Origins: Both the ancient Greeks and Romans ate leafy greens believed to be ancestors of the Kale varieties we eat today, consuming them as medicine as well as food. By the middle ages, Kale had widely spread through Europe and Asia.

First cultivated: Kale has been cultivated for over 2000 years.

Types: There are numerous varieties of Kale, popular ones include: Cavolo Nero, Curly Scarlet, Redbor Kale and Red Russian

Skill level:  Easy/Intermediate

Preferred location and conditions: Kale tolerates most conditions but requires nitrogen-rich, free-draining soil.

Good for containers: Yes

Harvest time: September to May

Planting and growing: Sow seeds from March to June, ensuring the soil remains moist. Flat leaved kales should be sown in situ but you can start off curly varieties in modules. Plant out from May to July at spacings of at least 45cm, ‘puddling’ the plants with plenty of water.

Possible problems:   Birds can be a problem, so it’s advisable to net the plants.

Did you know?

Kale is an excellent addition to any vegetable garden. Hardy and disease-resistant, it can adapt to most conditions and is one of the easiest brassicas to grow. It is also one of the most nutrient-rich. Hailed as a superfood, a serving of Kale contains more absorbable calcium than a small carton of milk. It’s low in calories, high in fibre and packed full of antioxidants. It’s high in vitamins A, C, E and K and rich in folate, manganese, magnesium, iron and potassium. It’s beneficial for the brain, heart, bones, skin, eyes and hair and has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

In much of Europe, Kale was once the most widely-eaten green vegetable. It thrived in cold climates because of its resistance to frost (which makes it taste sweeter), and was so commonly eaten in Scotland, that ‘kail’ became the generic word for dinner and all kitchens featured a ‘kail-pot’ for cooking. ‘Kailyard’ was a Scottish colloquialism for vegetable garden, and the term lent itself to the Kailyard School of Literature, a critically reviled group of Scottish writers (including Peter Pan author, J. M. Barrie) who revelled in sentimental descriptions of life in rural Scotland in the late 19th century.

Kale slipped out of fashion after the Middle Ages, when cabbage became more popular. Despite a brief renaissance during the Dig for Victory campaign of World War II, people stopped eating kale, and it was more commonly used in cattle feed. At the start of the 21st century, kale started to regain popularity, and after being named a ‘superfood’ in 2008, and with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, interest in the vegetable skyrocketed.

Kale remains one of the trendiest vegetables available, adapting itself to smoothies, salads, juices, stews, bakes and even cocktails (kalejito, anyone?) However, the British haven’t gone quite as cuckoo for kale as the Americans, who have not only devoted a national day to this highly-esteemed leaf (4th October 2018), but launched the first ever world kale-eating contest in 2016. Gideon Oji holds the current record, consuming 25 bowls of the vegetable in just eight minutes. And the obsession doesn’t end there; according to America’s Social Security Administration, 262 babies were named Kale in 2013.

Even if you’re not a fan of the vegetable on your dinner plate, there are ornamental varieties of Kale available, with showy leaves in shades of pink and purple, which can add a welcome blush of colour to winter borders.



To browse all our varieties of kale seeds just follow this link to the kale seeds section of our website.

Royal Horticultural Society

This article was first published on the RHS website February 2018. 

Read more on the RHS website about growing your own kale.

How to Make Leaf Mould: Turn Fallen leaves into gardener’s gold [video]

November 17th, 2016 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Autumn leaf moldAutumn brings the garden leaves,which may seem a nuisance at first but they can be beneficial to your garden in the long haul. This valuable supply of leaf mould can be put to use as compost for your plants. In this post, we go through how to create leaf mould and where it can be used. 

Leaf mould is simply what you get when leaves are left to decompose, they turn into dark crumbly compost. We like to name this gardener’s gold! It can be dug into the soil to improve its structure, spread onto the soil surface to be used as mulch and can be used as a base for your own potting soil mix.

  • Leaves from almost any deciduous tree or shrub, that sheds its leaves for winter can be used.
  • Any thicker leaves, such as horse-chestnut can take a little longer to decompose.
  • Tough evergreen leaves are best added to the compost heap where higher temperatures can assist in breaking them down faster.
  • Pine needles create an acidic lead mould. Collect these separately to mulch around acid loving plants, like blueberries.
  • Certain trees are best to be avoided as they release chemicals that can damage plant growth.
  • Collect leaves from anywhere in the garden. From lawns, plant beds, driveways and guttering. Leaves from heavily trafficked roads should not be used as they may contain pollutants that could in turn affect plant growth.
  • By using a rake or leaf blower, you can collect all the leaves into piles, then scoop them into containers.
  • You could also use a lawn mower to collect up leaves, the blade will chop up the leaves for you and collect them in the mower bag. These leaves are likely to decompose quicker.
  • Creating a leaf mould cage can contain all the leaves you collect. Secure chicken wire mesh around four corner posts that have been hammered firmly into the ground. Use U-shaped nails or staples to hold the mesh in place. You can now fill this with your collected leaves, the mesh should stop the leaves from blowing away but also giving them plenty of air. Check the leaves every few months. Water any dry patches and simply turn the leaves to mix them.

These are just a few tips on which leaves can be used for leaf mould and how to create storage for the leaves. The video below offers further advice on where is best to use leaf mould and how it can help your plants. If you have any top tips on leaf mould and how it can be used in the garden then let us know in the comments below.

GrowVeg | How to Make Leaf Mould

How to Make Leaf Mold: Turn Fallen leaves into gardener’s gold