For those of you that grow your own, you quite often find a packet of seeds at the bottom of your seed box that you don’t remember buying. I don’t know how I ended up with a packet of Afro seeds, possibly it was a free trial seed, certainly none of my usual seed merchants are selling it but I have found one supplier if you want to give it a go and I do think it is worth it.
As this is a bit of a novelty I didn’t really know what to expect. Possibly it might be a dwarf kale but as you can see from the photograph dwarf if definitely is not. Afro is quite attractive to look at, a vibrant fluffy green cloud that seemed untouched by slugs, snails and caterpillars so would do well in a potager. Because of this I thought it would be tough but it isn’t. If you tear the leaves from the big midrib then actually they are remarkably tender, tender enough to eat raw. The flavour is also good.
In the kitchen
Young leaves could be used in salads. Older ones sould be broken off at the stalk starting at the lowest leaves and working your way up. Cut out the big midrib in the middle. You can then lightly steam or stirfry. Try it in Kale Bhajias, crispy fried seaweed or Singapore noodles With crispy tofu
Yield and plant health
As you can see from the photograph Afro is a big Kale with plenty of frilly leaves and not many big ribs. The slugs, caterpillar and flee beetles did not touch it and it was very healthy. It is not resistant to club root.
You can start kale in pots in a green house or outdoors. Sow in Spring from March all the way up to early summer, 1cm deep. In pots sow 1-3 seeds in a 3 inch pot. Outdoors sow thinly in rows 15cm apart. Thin seedlings to one every 7cm or 1 per 3 inch pot. Water lightly until it is time to plant out.
Brassicas can fall victim to cabbage white butterfly or birds. Kale seems a bit less preferred but if you are netting other brassicas then it might be better to shelter your kale too.
In April/May once the plants have several true leaves plant out in final positions. Kale are not too fussy about where they go but they do need a firm soil so you might struggle with a very sandy soil. They will appreciate a feed of blood fish and bone or another organic fertiliser in the spring and a mulch to conserve water.
Pot grown plants will need a period of a week being moved outdoors during the day and brought inside at night to harden off. Plant 40 – 50 cm apart, firming in well to stop the plants rocking in high winds water in well and make sure that they are well watered until established. After this water only if it has been dry for several weeks.