Tasty leaves (nutty and/or peppery flavor) contain small quantities of many phytonutrients and vitamins. 4-5 cups give moderate to large dose. Cruciferous vegetable (similar to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) helps prevent many cancers. Most benefit comes from phytonutrients. Glucosinolates and sulforaphanes help stimulate enzymes for detoxifying and removing cell-damaging (possibly carcinogenic) chemicals. Carotenes act as antioxidants to protect skin cells, blood vessel cells and others from sun and free-radical damage. Help ward off cancer and cardiovascular problems. Source of chlorophyll, present in all plants. Limited research on this phytonutrient. Some basic studies suggest chlorophyll may protect from carcinogenic chemicals eaten or created during metabolism. More carefully controlled research is needed to confirm link between chlorophyll and reduced cancer risk. Health benefits come from synergy of all or many nutrients with regular consumption.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K, A, C and B9 (Folate)
Minerals – Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium and Potassium
Regular eating linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, many cancers (lung, colorectal, skin, perhaps others).
How to Grow
An easy-to-grow annual. Matures quickly (6-8 weeks). Likes cool weather and plenty of water. Sow seeds early spring and fall. Successive plantings OK through summer in cooler areas; through fall in warmer areas. Choose site with much sun. Soil wants good drainage. Enrich with much compost, manure or planting mix. Sow seeds thinly (1-2 inches apart) in rows spaced roughly 10 inches apart. Water regularly to keep soil moist. Take care not to over water. Ready to harvest when leaves are young and tender. Cut them and encourage plant to grow again. Make successive sowings every 2-3 weeks after first sowing. Watch out for sensitivity to hot weather; makes plant go to seed. Avoid growing during heat waves or plant in partial shade.
Resistant to common insect pests and diseases. Susceptible to slugs or snails. Early morning or evening, remove by hand. Or embed cup of beer in soil; lures them to crawl in and drown.
Harvest leaves while young. Older, larger leaves tough and bitter. Works well added to soups and salads or as garnish.