Field Kale


Bunch of Brassica Flowers

We plant a lot of different things out on our fields to make up the pasture mix. Pasture is only partially grass. There are many different legumes like various clovers, alfalfa, vetch, lupine, etc. These suck nitrogen from the air, free fertilizer. We also plant a wide variety of brassicas including kale, rape, broccoli, turnips, etc. Mostly this is for the pigs, but I often will sample it as I walk along through the field.

When I got back from one such field walk, just before dinner, I presented a bouquet of flowers, kale flowers, about to open. Think small headed broccoli. These are one of the first things to pop up in our pastures come spring. Delicious steamed and with a hollandaise sauce from our pastured chicken eggs.

Broccoli, kale, rape, cabbage and such are generally labeled annual plants but the reality is that if the conditions are right, such as deep snows, the roots survive the winter and send up new shoots the next spring. That was what I was picking from. Some of those roots were planted as seed in the fall 2009 and the spring of 2010 so they’re now on their third and fourth year. Others were smaller roots with fewer stems that had come from the seed of those original plants. Out on my walk I saw many much smaller plants that were obviously just germinating from the seed of last fall.

Left alone the cole crops will go to seed quite nicely. The birds and livestock eat the seed but almost all of it passes right through them so the seed gets spread in the animal manures. With a little strategic grazing timing this results in the pastures not needing reseeding.

Not all varieties do as well in all soils so I plant several different types. Then they fight it out in the field for supremacy. None of them gain dominance like in the conventional mono-crop fields but rather they are mixed in as a delicious salad among all the other forages.

Ding-dong! Dinner’s served!

Outdoors: 69°F/40°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/64°F

Daily Spark: Eat alien invaders.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Field Kale

  1. Nance says:

    What a great photo of Holly! My grandmother, married in 1907 and still raising children during the Great Depression told me in the 1950s about how good Dandelion Greens, winter onions and rhubarb were in the early spring. That generation, of course, didn’t get heads of iceberg lettuce shipped in weekly or daily to the local general store. I can’t imagine their hunger for fresh vegetables after a long Iowa winter.

  2. Erin says:

    Was that her mothers day present? How old is Holly? I just did the math. You two have a twenty year old son. Walter you must be a cradle robber! You two got started young!

  3. Thallius says:

    Holy smokes batman! 50! The big 50! Neither of you look it! Your whole family looks very healthy. It must be all that good food and good mountain fresh air and water and exercise you all get!

  4. Loved this post (well all the posts actually). As I walked the goat herd noticed the kale that had overwintered in the old pig pasture had broccoli looking things. Ah-ha. Just had the best breakfast ever of kale broccoli and two of my hens sunny side up eggs. Yum!

  5. Sally Sievers says:

    I’ve discovered via our local farmer’s market that the small overwintered collard sprouts in the early spring are incredibly sweet and flavorful, and tender. Too good to cook, so I make them into a salad (like with cabbage). Don’t care for collards when they’re big, but the babies are a real gourmet treat. Don’t last long enough though.

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