I have a winter garden. It is not big or fancy but it does the job of keeping me stocked with fresh greens through most of the winter. To be honest, it's actually my favorite way to garden because the weeds are few and easy to spot. Until recently, we have been in the dead of winter and most of the other greens have signed off for the season. But my Red Russian Kale is still holding on.
My first real introduction to Kale was when one of my best friends from college wrote a cookbook about it "The Kale Effect" (www.eatmorekale.com). I loved how I could make a salad and the leaves would stay firm enough to eat it the next day for lunch. And I found that it really was delicious and that there were so many ways to eat it. A few years ago I came across the book "Eating on the Wild Side" by Jo Robinson. I have a science undergraduate degree and I am fascinated by how the food we eat can bring health or sickness. I tend towards the former much to my children's chagrin. Reading this book is essentially a compilation and summary (aka meta analysis) on the nutritional components of over 100 of the fruits and vegetables we eat and has an impressive reference section at the end of the book. It also shares about the most nutritious species of each fruit or vegetable as well as the best way to store and prepare to preserve the optimal nutrition. I literally read this book cover to cover and will be sharing my favorite highlights as we go! What I learned about Kale though was this: not only does it last through the snow and cold weather of winter, but it actually tastes better as a result of it! It made me love this dark green leafy vegetable even more knowing that it became sweeter after a hard frost.
Maybe you can see where I am going with this....like summer gardens, we expect our best when the conditions are ideal. We want to thrive and we all want to grow and become our best selves. And ideally we would like to do that in a comfortable way that doesn't require too much inconvenience. But it's the challenge, the squeeze, the "I can't do this one more day" feeling that allows for change to happen inside of us at our deepest level. In the moment it feels like death will find us and we will never be the same. And in a way that is true. But what comes from this "death" is a sweeter and more refined self. We are stronger and more resilient than before and that is what makes us mighty.
Kimberly Simpson, a native of New Jersey, graduate of Wheaton College and resident of Nashville. Married and mother of three children. Lover of the ocean, gardens, yoga, cooking and travel.