The Kale Calcium Connection: Grow & Eat Leafy Greens


Kale makes me happy.

It’s a veggie that does triple duty:

  1. Grows anywhere.
  2. Filled with nutrients.
  3. Easy to include in meals.

Health benefits of kale

According to doctors, kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. He developed a food ranking system based on nutrients per calorie.  The higher the levels of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) in a food, the higher the ranking.  1000 is the highest possible rating.  Here are some sample ratings:

  • Kale 1000
  • Collard greens 1000
  • Arugula 604
  • Romaine lettuce 510
  • Broccoli 340
  • Onions 109
  • Apples 53
  • White bread 17
  • Low fat cheddar cheese 11
  • Corn chips 7
  • Cola 1

Why do I care so much about micronutrients?  “Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases,” writes Dr. Fuhrman on his website.  To sum it up: micronutrients help keep our structure stable and our systems functioning at optimal levels. They play key roles in all of our body structures and functions including bone health, eye sight, immune function, nervous system, etc, etc.

How much kale to eat?

Doctors recommends eating leafy greens (not all kale) 6 times a day for people with serious cardiovascular problems.  For the rest of us, he recommends eating as much as we can.  For me that means breakfast smoothies,  substantial luncheon salads, a big side of greens with a veggie burger, a casserole or stew with greens.

I can do greens with every meal, dude, every meal.

How to grow kale

This year’s selection of kale in my garden. Heirloom seeds rock!

Psshhhaw!  Its the easiest thing to grow, especially in colder climates.  No doubt most people who have grown kale have experienced monster kale. This stuff likes to get big and doesn’t need much help doing it.  If you live in a southern climate (e.g. Georgia), it will do better during your colder season.  Kale is perfect for the fall garden further north because it is cold hardy and leaves become sweeter once touched by cold weather.

You can start kale indoors or seed it directly into workable soil as early as possible in the spring.  Seeds can be sown every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting.  Its a good idea not to plant it all at once – many a gardener has lamented the arrival of so much kale they don’t know what to do with it.

Ragged Jack Kale

Days to maturity will vary between about 45-60.  Baby leaves can be picked much sooner than when the plant reaches ‘maturity’.  So choose your seed types according to the following:

how long your cool season is

whether you want to pick baby leaves or mature leaves

There are lots of types of kale (Brassicaceae family) to choose from:  curly, flat leaf, lacinato (lacy)/frilly, purple-ish, red, black/dark, russian, dwarf.

Triple-Curled Dutch Darkibor Kale. Seeds from Renee’s Garden. Still in the baby stages. Mmm…


Eating kale – and lots of it!  

Kale can be eaten raw, steamed, or cooked.  Baby leaves are more tender and less pungent than older leaves.


  • steamed on the side (plain or with a sauce)
  • raw in a sandwich
  • raw in a smoothie
  • raw in a salad
  • raw pieces rubbed/massaged and eaten in a salad (works well to soften older tougher leaves)
  • chopped pieces on a pizza
  • chopped pieces in your pasta
  • chopped pieces in soups and stews
  • chopped pieces in casseroles
  • baked and eaten as a snack – kale chips
  • dried into a powder and added to soups and stews

Here is my own favorite kale smoothie recipe:  Kale Blueberry Vanilla Smoothie

I picked some fresh garden kale and added it to a nice Ethopian lentil stew served up with homemade teff bread.  I used this recipe from  Her method is for making a pizza but I just used the topping as a stew and the pizza shell as a focaccia-style loaf of bread.  Its a wonderfully delicious combo that wouldn’t be complete without the added bits of kale.