Now we have gotten a lot of letters recently, we will spare you the gritty and sometimes insulting details but the basic jist of it has been “MORE KALE” so we would like to present our first featured article on the exact science of how to pick Kale. There is a lot of misinformation flying around about the subject so we have created a step by step process which should aid the beginning gardening aficionado in growing a solid and bountiful crop. You may not believe it but gardening is easy. Take it one plant at a time, and build your repertoire, just like any other skill set. Start with something (anything!), get familiar, and then move on to another.
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Here’s Dinosaur Kale – aka Lacinato Kale, and it’s ready for the first picking. It has around 12 mature leaves, and five immature leaves which we won’t pick until the next harvest. Always harvest
Dino Kale - bend down
First, hold the plant steady and grab the bottom leaf and push down, like in the picture, until the joint between stalk and stem snaps a bit.
Dino Kale - bend right
Next, bend the stem to the right, until it snaps again. You’ll feel it, and probably hear it too. Just bend it, don’t tear – you’ll be able to take it off at this step when you get really good, but not yet – unless you want to hurt the plant.
Dino Kale - bend left
Now bend the leaf to the left, and it should snap again, this time maybe completely off.
You’re trying to separate the leaf from the stalk, right at the joint, without hurting the plant; so you can get around 100+ more leaves off of it. Not bad, right?
Dino Kale - bend up
The last step, if the leaf is even still connected, is to bend up, which should break any remaining connection the stem has to the plant. You should see a nice clean break. If all else fails, just cut the stem close to the stalk with scissors.
Then you move on to the next lowest leaf, and then the next one up, and so on, all the way to the top…
Dino Kale - before
OK, so you don’t pick the topmost leaves, because they’re the little “solar panels” that are going to drive the plant to grow more leaves for you to harvest… and the cycle continues.
Dino Kale - after
This plant got picked a bit too far, but it’ll live. It still has leaves that’ll grow to maturity and the main bud, the apical meristem, is still there, so new leaves are being made every second, and you can keep picking for months.
Now you just need to do something with it all. Start with something like this simple kale recipe – http://norecipes.com/blog/sauteed-kale-with-garlic/
Photo Credit: Timothy Quick, taken at City of Oakland’s Digital Arts & Culinary Academy on International and Seminary in East Oakland with an HTC Evo 4G.