Rob plants kalettes, Megan cooks with silverbeet

How to grow unusual brassicas and cook with silverbeet

Rob plants kohlrabi, collards and kalettes

  • Our veges need to grow in good soil in order to be nutrient-dense for us.
  • The first part of making good soil is adding carbon in the form of compost. The amount of carbon stored in the soil is the basis of soil fertility. It releases nutrients for plant growth and promotes the structure, biological and physical health of soil.
  • Secondly, leafy green vegetables thrive on nitrogen so we’ve added well-composted chicken manure to our bed. Alternatives are blood and bone and sheep pellets.
  • Thirdly, good soils have calcium in them as calcium promotes strong cell growth in our plants. If your bed is slightly acidic, you can add lime. If the pH in your soil is neutral or alkaline, add gypsum, which doesn’t affect pH levels and is a good source of calcium.
  • Lastly, we like adding rock dust, which has 70 minerals and vitamins in it. It feeds the plants which in turn feed us.
  • We don’t dig our fertilisers in as the rain, earthworms and the bacteria and fungi in the soil will work it in for us.
  • Kohlrabi is ancient vegetable, well-known in Europe, and it’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It’s officially a root crop, although the bulb does grow above the ground. They grow to the size of a beetroot, so plant 15-20cms apart. There are red and green varieties – we find the red variety grows better. Great grated in salads, or added to soups and stews.
  • Collards too have been grown for centuries. We sometimes call them Dalmatian cabbages – in Europe they’re known as ‘greens’ and in the US as ‘collard greens’. Plant 40-50 cms apart as they grow huge. Pick the leaves off the plant like you would with kale. Good in green smoothies.
  • Kalettes on the other hand are a new vegetable. Well, they’ve been around for 15 years and they’re hugely popular in the UK and the US at the moment. They’re a cross between brussels sprouts and kale. They grow like a brussels sprout plant but have little kales instead of the sprouts.
  • As it’s too cold for white butterfly and slugs and snails, all we have to do now is net the bed to protect our plants from birds and animals.

Megan makes Silverbeet Dahl with Dosas

Camera: Davian Lorson
Editor: Adam Prest