Kale is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. According to Dr. Furhmans’s ANDI scale, Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, that ranks foods according to micronutrients per calorie, kale is the winner! It also happens to be one of the easiest vegetables to grow! I have grown it organically in my garden every year for the past 3 years. Having done so, I have acquired a bit of knowledge on how to grow some knock-your-socks-off beautiful kale! Here are my 3 tips on how to up your kale growing game:
1) Get the Micronutrients in the Soil
All leafy greens are naturally high in minerals. Having rocks near by or rock dust in your soil insures that the plants have access to the wide array of trace minerals that they love. Fun Fact: The hummus in your garden soil will form carbonic acid with rainwater. This carbonic acid actually dissolve minerals from rocks! Rock dust is an organic soil additive that I like to add to my raised bed’s soil since the roots of these plants are not close to any rocks. Not only will this make your kale glow, but it will make it sweeter! And give it that extra wow factor.
2) Make the Soil come Alive
Something learned just about a year ago is that plants can not get the nutrients from the soil with out bacteria and fungi! The bacteria and fungi actually eat the nutrients from the soil and then the plants eat the bacteria and fungi’s poop! Cool stuff right??
A good way to ensure you have healthy bacteria is to make sure you are not disturbing the soil. That means no tilling and and when an area is ready to be cleared don’t pull up its roots unless you have too. Just cut it at the base and let the roots decompose in the ground. Also you can make compost teas rich in bacteria.
3) Planting Time is Key
I love kale so much for its ability to withstand frost, but that doesn’t mean it can be planted during the winter. Kale, like most other plants like to be planted in either the fall or spring when the weather is mild. This insures your plants will get a good establishment before is starts to get to hot or cold. Planting it when it is to hot or cold will stress it and will either not grow very fast or die. :’’’’’’(
So there you have it. My top three tips for growing the most nutritious kale to fuel your highest level of health and happiness! I hope you got something out of this, and if you did please don’t hesitate to share! 🙂
We all at some time or another have great ideas. The ‘eureka’ moments that we want to share with the world. Often this comes from a long time spent in a certain field of study or from out of nowhere. This is the beginning of greatness for some. For others this is as far as it goes. The moment comes and without action it’s just a memory. Fear prevents us from taking action on these potentially genius ideas or we expect others to do the work while we sit back and muse.
Thinkers and doers can no doubt have very different personalities. It’s those who can not only think but also do that reach their full potential. You’ve probably heard of the knowing and doing gap. I know what I need to do but yet I do nothing or do the opposite is how it plays out most of the time. What I’ve found to be the best approach is to start.Thoughts develop into action. Being intentional and writing down your ideas is action. As time permits you can revisit those ideas instead of wondering what they were. Setting aside time to work on your ideas is a great practice. Once your consistently taking action things begin to come together.
It’s the Do The Work podcast series by Diego Footer that has inspired me to write this post. It’s his approach to life that I feel can make alot of difference in bridging the gap between having an idea and making it a reality. He signs off each episode with a simple message to his listeners. “Be nice, be thankful, & do the work”
It’s no surprise that people love things BIG! Homes, automobiles, and even food portions. Some people just have a drive to focus on consumption. What makes people act this way? That’s the question I’ve often pondered. The only thing I can come up with is status. We all long to belong and be accepted. If someone tells you all about their trip to the beach you will either tell them about your trip or how you wish you could go. The new model car and expensive suburban home are what we think we want without being honest with ourselves. My guess is we would much rather do something even more unique and exciting like foraging for wild edibles or creating a permaculture food forest. That will depend on what works for you.
Foraging for wild edibles does in fact get a rise out of a small portion of the population. It is my thought that a much larger percentage of the population would embrace the activity if they had full disclosure of how it’s not always about survival. It’s a way of connecting with the earth. In learning to value the earth we find value in the small things such as chickens. These creatures are stacked with functions waiting to be applied. They add fertility to the soil and help control unwanted insects such as squash bugs. To often we look to government, the media, and celebrities to determine what we should value or accept socially. Finding who you are should be about the things that make you truly happy. In most cases it’s not things, it’s people.
Keeping up with the rat race of mindless consumption is to often our goal. What I’ve learned is the less you have the more time you have to enjoy it. It took finding the idea of minimalism to get here. Being intentional with your time and money doesn’t mean you have nothing. It means the things you do have truly add value to your life. I’ve blended this way of thinking with permacultures holistic solutions based thinking. It has given me a clear picture of what I want so I am accepted vs. what I need to be happy. So next time you find yourself in love with the newest thing stop and ask yourself ‘does it truly add value?’
Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to go along with a couple friends on a weekend caming trip. They took me to a semi local destination that I heard alot about. It was close to Cheaha State Park in Alabama. The name was High Falls / Odum trailhead. We left early that Saturday morning heading out for adventure. It took less than two hours for us to arrive at the parking lot located at the bottom of the trail. With our gear on our backs we set out up the hilly terrain to my friends favorite camp site.
Once we located the campsite we began to unpack our things and prep for the cold night ahead. The forecast was calling for 28°F that night and it might have even been colder. The wind direction was hard to pin point due to the terrain around us. We eventually settled on the primary wind pattern and placed their tent and my hammock close to a natural wind break.
After we had our sleeping arrangements made we grabbed our water bottles, filter pumps, and Lifestraw and headed down to the water. The water was crystal clear with a soft blue green hue that took my breathe away. The constant flow of water cascading down the large waterfalls was hypnotic. Large rocks and boulders dominated the landscape adding to its beauty. I noticed several budding brushes in the sunny areas where the rock and water meet. The edge where the beneficial components came together was allowing life to thrive. We spent the rest of the day climbing rocks, exploring, and meditating.
It was good to disconnect from the world and connect with nature. I noticed several wild berry bushes along certain areas. In other areas I saw how indigenous trees had continued to grow ontop of boulders. They didn’t give up fighting to live even in these harsh conditions. The wood of those trees was very dense, near impossible to break, and loaded with btu’s. I’m still reseaching to determine the actual name of the tree but for now we will call it Chuck Norris tree. The monoculture pines that were meant to replace them however did ok until they got to the edge where the ‘Chuck Norris’ trees thrived. The top layer of soil was visibly superior where the planted pines had not taken over. The mentals notes of all I had observed will help me in the on going design of the Path To Permaculture farmstead.
After the drought we experienced in the summer of 2016 you will not hear me complain about rain. The storms that have provided the recent precipitation have sadly caused alot of damage in some areas. High winds and tornados are not something I can be thankful for. The rain however is something I am thankful for.
Along with some of the normal unseasonably warm days I’ve began to see life emerging from the soil. It was a few weeks ago I broadcasted rapeseed as fodder and root knot nematode control on my farmstead. After all those recent nights and days of straight downpours they have begun to grow. New wild strains of fungi have been spotted on my farmstead. Mushroom fruits such as wild oyster have emerged from hickory stumps felled 2 years ago.
It’s been constant testing and retesting of my water harvesting systems by the rain events. Places that had previously washed out are now soaking up every drop I get of the vital resource. This has given me a feeling that what I am doing is working. I am not talking about major earthworks either. What I have done is very small scale moving of dirt along with laying logs on contour in keyline areas. Creating natural dams in gullys up hill has also proven effective in recent rain storms.
Keeping in mind where I’ve been and where I want to go, I’ve decide to be thankful for the rain no matter what…
Over six years ago I decided I was going to do some landscaping at my new home. I had never heard of permaculture design nor did I know just how awful my soil was at the time. It turns out a sandy hill void of topsoil comes with challenges. Adding to those challenges was the high acidity from all the surrounding pine trees that are a staple in southern monoculture forestry land. So without much observation I dug six holes and filled them using four encore azaleas and two peach trees.
The peach trees I planted almost immediately died regardless of the care I gave. By the next year all but two of the azaleas followed suit and decided not to live. With such a low return on investment I stopped planting. I stopped trying to grow. It did not make sense to buy more plants just to watch them die. Looking back I can see how this was a true failure. My dream of a nice yard was done. It would take to much time, energy, and money to keep going without guarantee of success. Going fishing and having a good time became the path. Counting the cost made me quit something that I truly felt connected to.
As time went on my health went with it. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and lack of energy had taken hold. It was at that point I knew things had to change. I began to diet and exercise regularly with a focus on organic fruits and vegetables. This helped tremendously but I was not satisfied. The more I researched the more I realized that the whole system was rigid. So with this new revelation I began to garden. Working on that garden made gave me the sense of accomplishment I had been longing for. Growing my food became my passion.
As I went deeper into growing the best food I kept coming across one word. There had to be something to this for so many to want to share it. I had found the word permaculture. The idea of making the problem the solution just made sense to me and captured my focus. Applying this new way of thinking to my life and plantings began to close the loop of my well being. Now I spend a lot of time, energy, and money creating great soil. I no longer see it as a liability but rather as a priceless asset.
While riding home the other day I noticed something unusual off to the side of the road. It was a huge pile, no more like a mountain of leaves! They had been bagged and appeared to be headed for the landfill. I pulled in and knocked on the door of the property owner. The door cracked barely open and a small lady with a soft voice said hello. After exchanging greetings I pointed to the mountain in her yard and asked about it. She informed me that I was welcome to take as many of the bags I wished. I thanked her and began to work. I was going to move that mountain!
Equipped nothing but leather gloves, a truck & trailer, and will power I went after my goal. Loading the wet bags on a frozen day was a challenge. As I unloaded the bags of biomass, I staged them in locations that would make it easy to spread. Three large piles sit waiting to be applied. Over 50 bags total is a fair estimate. I plan to use some of them as brown material in compost, sheet mulching, and biotowers. The soil I started with here is sandy and will benefit greatly from the added biomass. Worms, fungi, and bacteria will move in and break them down into beautiful soil very quickly. That beautiful soil will be the foundation of my permaculture food forest. That food forest is going to be a reality!
My path to permaculture has lead me to appreciate what these little creatures can do. Worms help with fertility, proper moisture levels, soil aeration, bacterial and fungal inoculation just to name a few of their benefits.
I took a survey of scraps from previous projects. My rabbit and chicken tractor projects did not leave me with alot of extra materials I knew. Alot of materials thankfully weren’t required for my worm bin. Some old boards, a piece of tin, and some sewing together of 1/2 in hardware clothe scraps made enough materials to make my first worm bin for FREE!)
First, we built a simple box frame from some old weathered lumber.
Next, we covered one side with 1/2″ hardware clothes to prevent predation from underneath.
Then, we layered in our eggshells, chicken manure, cardboard, shredded paper, and compost.
Finally, we covered it with a piece of tin and a weight.
I had some great help that day that was interested in learning basic carpentry which was great to share. It’s unclear if I’m happier about having accomplished a goal or that it is was upcycled from what most would consider useless!
It was around this time last year that we decided to host a workshop on inoculating logs for mushroom cultivation. The we I refer to here is our amazing local permaculture group. Path To Permaculture began planning the event for the following February. Some of us would need to order the spawn and wax. Others located items such as crockpots, drills, table, cords, and things such as brushes. Everyone came together to harvest the trees we would need. We teamed up with www.eatsouth.com to host the event in downtown Montgomery, Al. This allowed us to bring in more people from the local community who were also interested. Jayme Oates ofwww.farmscapesolutions.comdid a wonderful job of introducing us to the whole process as our presenter. I will admit it was work inoculating a trailer load of green logs. Everyone got involved and everyone got to bring home a log! I was impressed at the teamwork of all those individuals coming together to do the hard work regardless of their differences, that may separate them any other day. Now it was going to be a waiting game for us newbie mushroom cultivators. I admit it crossed my mind a few times that the logs might not make it due to the awful drought we experienced this year. Making use of the logs instead for firewood never was an option for me. I had seen people work so hard to make this a reality. I keep my share of logs well shaded and in more humid areas of my property the entire time. It was a recent post by a friend in north Alabama that triggered me to take a closer look at my logs. She had hosted a similar workshop around the same time as ours. The logs they had made were beginning to fruit. Instead of my casually glancing at the logs as I walked by I took a closer look at what I had today. What I had was home grown shiitake! Seeing our idea come to fruition one year after taking action kicks ass!
Can’t wait to cook a flush of my shiitake up for dinner one night soon.