Best Kale Salad

Not everyone likes kale but guaranteed some will be converts after tasting this salad. (There is a secret step in this recipe.) We like dinosaur kale, ‘Lacinato’, but we grow other kale varieties and often add them to the salad for colour and texture. Be brave; give this salad a try.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinate Time: minimum 10 minutes
Serves 4

6 – 8 (8 oz / 225 g) kale leaves
generous pinch of sea salt
4 – 5 (4 oz / 115 g) radishes, washed and thinly sliced
1 medium (6 oz / 170 g) apple, seeded and diced
½ c (125 ml) dried cranberries
½ c (125 ml) pecans, pine nuts, or almonds, chopped
¼ c (63 ml) sesame seeds, toasted
½ c (2 oz / 55 g) feta cheese, crumbled

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp (22 ml) white balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tbsp (22 ml) honey
1 tbsp (15 ml) smooth Dijon mustard
dash of sea salt to taste
dash of coarse black pepper to taste


To toast seeds, spread them on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 °F (180 °C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes or toast them in a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Whatever the method, stir the seeds frequently and watch they do not burn. Remove from oven or burner once the seeds start to turn brown. Immediately pour seeds into a small dish, as they will continue to cook on the cookie sheet and in the skillet.

Cut out the tough stems from the kale leaves and discard. Cut the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Wash kale in cold water. Place washed kale pieces into a salad spinner and spin dry. (Best done in batches.)

Secret step: Empty each batch of washed and spun-dried kale onto a towel and roll towel to dry kale further. Empty into a large bowl. Sprinkle a very small pinch of sea salt over the dried kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching them. The leaves will go darker in colour and release a delightful fragrance.

Repeat sea salt and massaging for each dried batch of kale leaves.

Sprinkle radish slices, diced apple, and dried cranberries over kale leaves.

Sprinkle chopped nuts and toasted sesame seeds overtop.

Crumble feta cheese on top.

To make dressing:

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine well. Pour over salad and toss to evenly distribute dressing through the kale leaves.

Allow the salad to marinate for a minimum of 10 minutes before serving. Better yet, make this salad in the morning, cover, and put in the refrigerator to marinate until dinner.

Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’

Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’  Family: Primulaceae
(PRIM-yu-luh  vul-GAIR-iss)
Syn. Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine

Common name: Belarina® Nectarine Primrose
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)  Spread: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)
Aspect: partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular  

Description: A low growing, clump-forming, evergreen perennial with bright green, wrinkled leaves. Fully double flowers open a deep yellow-orange colour and slowly transform through shades of apricot-pinky-orange to a gorgeous rose-orange as they mature. Bloom time begins in April and lasts through into June or July with regular dead-heading. Plant may go dormant in the high heat of summer if in full sun.


Special Notes: For clarity sake, Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’ is the patented name of this plant. Belarina® Nectarine is the registered trade name by which it is more commonly sold. It was bred by Cambridge, UK plant breeders, David and Priscilla Kerley, and introduced in 2014. Double-flowered primulas were once very popular in England a century or two ago but had become largely extinct. Through careful breeding, the Kerleys have bred a number of different cultivars in the Belarina® series for the gardener’s growing pleasure. (I have acquired a few in this series: Belarina® Pink Ice, Belarina® Valentine, and Belarina® Amethyst Ice.)


In our Zone 7a garden: Belarina® Nectarine was a new acquisition to our garden in 2017 and was planted in the front garden out of direct sunlight behind a Weigela spp. and shaded by the canopy of our large chestnut tree. A very stunning plant. Highly recommend this cultivar.


Posted on February 28, 2018




Mustard ‘Komatsuna’

Photo coming soon

Brassica rapa var. perviridis     Family: Brassicaceae
(BRASS-ih-ka  RAY-pa)
Common name: Komatsuna; Komatsuna Green; Japanese mustard spinach
Zone: 4 – 9
Height: 12-15 in (30-38 cm)  Spread: 12 in (30 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; loam with good drainage
Water: regular  

Days to Maturity: From seed – 20 days (baby greens); 40 days (full size)
Seed life: 3 years


Description: A biennial leafy Asian green. Moderately elliptical, dark green leaves are grown on a long stem. They are slightly textured with veining quite prominently displayed. Although a biennial, this is considered a cool season crop, although it can tolerate short periods of extreme heat. It is reasonably frost-hardy to temperatures as low as -18 °C to -12 °C (0 °F to 10 °F). Protection with row cover or in a hoop house at the low temperatures is recommended.


Special Notes: An open-pollinated variety native to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, this mustard is closely related to cabbage, turnips, rapini, and bok choi. Originally grown exclusively in its native countries, it was introduced into North America in the 1930s but has only recently gained some popularity in the specialty markets.

Fast growing at optimum soil temperature, komatsuna can be harvested for baby greens at 20 – 30 days from seeding. Matures to full size in 40 days.

Leaves have good nutritional value, rich in beta carotene, calcium, and Vitamins A, B2, C, and K. Also highly prized for its glucosinolates…sulfur-containing compounds found in brassicas which are generally thought to have great benefits in fighting cancer.


How to Grow: Optimum soil temperature range: 7 °C – 35 °C (45 °F – 95 °F). Minimum soil temperature: 4.5 °C (40 °F). Ideal soil temperature: 29.5 °C (85 °F). Ideal soil pH: 6.0 – 6.5. Amend planting row with Complete Organic Fertilizer (click here for recipe)…one cup (250 ml) per ten feet (3 m).

If starting indoors, sow seeds from early February through to early March. If direct seeding outdoors, sow undercover for frost protection. From March through to the end of May, direct sow short rows every 2 – 3 weeks to ensure a continuous harvest of baby greens or mature plants. Start sowing again in late August or early September for late fall and winter harvests.

Cut individual leaves or the whole plant at whatever maturity stage you prefer. Young leaves are tender with a gentler flavour than the tougher mature ones. If left too long, mature leaves can develop a slight bitterness. Use in salads, stir fries, soups, or as a steamed vegetable like spinach. Can be dried for longer storage in an air-tight container in a dry cool place.


Pests & Diseases: Slugs and wood lice (sow bugs) can be a problem for young seedlings. Good housekeeping in keeping rows debris-free with no puddles of water should help with these two pests. Flea beetles are attracted to the more mature leaves, leaving tiny round holes in their wake. Using row cover will guard against this pest.

As with every member in the Brassicaceae family, clubroot is of major concern to komatsuna. Keeping to a strict regime of rotating your crops annually in a four or five year cycle…and not sowing another brassica crop where you grew one the year before is paramount to keeping clubroot out of your garden.


In our Zone 7a garden: We grew komatsuna for the first time in 2017. It grew well for us in our vegetable garden, which is in full sun…although some sections are shaded by a tall birch tree during part of the day. First planting was in the area which enjoys part shade through the heat of the day. This siting certainly delayed the komatsuna plants from bolting by a couple of weeks, at least, during the high heat of summer.

We enjoyed the addition of young leaves in our salads so will definitely be growing this variety again in 2018. This time I will be experimenting in seeding a low pot of komatsuna…both green and the new hybrid red variety…to grow on my front porch which enjoys filtered sun.


Posted on February 21, 2018



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