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  • John Hershey

Give Kale a Chance

By John Hershey:


Yes, give kale a chance! Not “give peas a chance”. If it’s cheap garden puns you want, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t have thyme for that.


As I do every year, I got too excited during that spell of warm weather in early March and planted out some kale seedlings in a raised bed, under a little plastic-covered hoop house I hoped would protect them during the cool nights. But no. A few days later the temperature plummeted to 16 degrees, and my poor little kale babies seemed destined for the compost bin of history.

I came so close to pulling the kale out to make room for something else later. But I didn’t get around to it, so the plants just laid there. Lo and behold, now it’s early May, and those moribund sprouts have sprung up into big, vigorous plants! Kale and hearty, as it were.


I feel like Miracle Max from The Princess Bride! Turns out my kale friends here were only mostly dead.


What can this heroic plant teach us? As often happens with gardeners, the apparent character flaws of procrastination and inaction may actually be the virtues of patience and forebearance. If you ask me, this is also true of life in general! I suppose it’s rather self-serving for me to draw that conclusion, and I shouldn’t try to use a few little plants to retroactively justify a lifetime of laziness. So here’s another lesson I learned from my resurrected kale: we should not be too quick to give up on our garden plants, or anyone else, as they make their way in this often cold and unpredictable world. Sometimes they will surprise us with their resilience.


The parable of the kale is a good reminder that we are not in control. The kale haters out there may lament that not even a hard frost can kill this noxious weed. Leading the backlash is Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who recently announced: “I don’t eat kale. You know why? Because kale tastes to me like I’d rather be fat.” But those of us who love this delicious nutritional powerhouse can celebrate its gentle strength. All we gardeners need to do is be good stewards of a healthy ecosystem so our plants can grow naturally. Often the best thing to do in the garden is, as the great poet put it, let it be.


John Hershey ( is a gardener in Littleton. For more garden fun, find him on instagram:



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