Lots of folks make fun of kale because it’s in everything. Kale chips, kale smoothies, kale salad...the list goes on and on.
There’s a reason for this, though. One cup of kale contains more than your recommended daily value of vitamins K, A, and C. It also has lots of trace minerals, like copper, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium.
Varieties: I like Red Russian Kale, which you grow as a baby green. Cut the leaves after about 25 days and you’ll have tender, tasty kale. Then the plant will regrow for another harvest. Cool, right?
Planting: Set out kale plants in January and you’ll be harvesting your first crop of baby greens in February.
Fresh beets are so much better than those awful canned things we had as kids. And did you know that beets are full of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C?
Varieties: I like this Gourmet Blend because it includes 3 different types of beets: Detroit Dark Red with deep red roots and delicious dark green tops, Chioggia with interior rings of bright pink and white, and Golden with bright yellow flesh.
Planting: Plant seeds directly in the garden in January and harvest in March, when roots are between 1-3 inches in diameter.
Recipe: Instead of roasting or pickling your beets, try this delicious beet kvass.
The biggest danger to cabbage (in my garden, anyway) is from critters like slugs and cabbage worms. Here's a neat trick I use to keep the bugs away from my precious crop.
Varieties:Copenhagen Market is my favorite cabbage to grow. It was developed in 1909 and is the standard for many varieties that were developed after it. It’s great for small gardens and container gardens.
Planting: Plant your cabbage seedlings out in the garden in January. Space them about 2 feet apart so they have room to grow.
Recipe: My favorite cabbage dish is so easy, you don’t need a recipe. Fry up diced bacon and onions in a pan. Then add chopped cabbage and stir-fry until the cabbage is just softened. Yum!
We call broccoli "happy little trees" as a tribute to Bob Ross (and as an attempt to get the kids to eat it). There's nothing like the sense of accomplishment you get from growing broccoli--it's rare in home gardens.
Varieties:Broccoli Di Cicco is my favorite--it reliably produces large heads and then continues to produce smaller offshoots after the main harvest.
Planting: Plant your broccoli seedlings directly in the garden in January, about 18 inches apart.