03 Nov2014


I get an increasing amount of emails enquiring about sources of local kale. I often respond that it can be found in some groceries, weekend markets and from specialty purveyors. In recent weeks I have seen it on offer in Cash & Carry in bunches, both organic and not. I have seen it at Down2Earth on Yakal Street, at Santis delicatessens, Rustan’s groceries, and imported bunches of kale at S&R. It’s nice to see it available in more and more places, and frankly, I wonder where readers do their grocery shopping to send me emails that make it sound like it’s utterly impossible to find things in Manila markets (I once chewed out someone who repeatedly claimed it was impossible to find cilantro for her Mexican dishes, only for her to be chagrined when I said “ask for wansoy, which except for the depths of the rainy season, is often available at any decent market”…that shut them up.)


But nothing beats organically grown local kale, in this case Tuscan Kale or Cavolo Nero, and harvested at this stage where the leaves are still small and supple and utterly delicious. Thank you Gejo Jimenez of Malipayon Farms for keeping me on your delivery route… this stuff and others like it just show up on my doorstep after I text order it a couple of days before (of course I have a wholesale/restaurant account, so I don’t think Gejo delivers a single bunch of kale to any address). This kale is grown on a small farm plot in Silang, Cavite, near Tagaytay, and it’s picked hours before I cook it. Or in this case, I didn’t even bother to subject it to heat at all. Recipe up next.



  1. millet says:

    my husband over the past few months has turned into a passionate backyard organic gardener, so we’re blessed to have lots of kale, brilliantly-colored chard (the “neon lights” variety is awesome), different kinds of mustard greens and lettuce, and herbs in our tiny backyard. we’ve even invited friends and relatives to harvest. i never knew so much could be done with a small space.

    and i’m so happy to have found bottled burong dalag (“Balaw-Balaw” brand) – we love it sauteed with lots of tomatoes and wrapped in mustard greens that have a peppery bite, they almost taste like wasabi.

    Nov 3, 2014 | 8:11 am


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  3. millet says:

    still laughing over the taray wansoy reply ;-)

    Nov 3, 2014 | 8:15 am

  4. Monty says:

    Kale has become very popular because of its health benefits, so I hope more growers produce it just like romaine and arugula in the past. Kale is quite common in restaurants abroad, so much so that chefs looking for a difference have turned to broccoli stalks to provide something new and different to their menus.

    Nov 3, 2014 | 8:35 am

  5. betty q. says:

    Kale is typically a biennial. It takes 2years before its cycle is completed. I grow it in late summer for the leaves but come spring the next year, they become alive again and grow side shoots. The side shoots are what I am after for they are my favorite! They look like broccoli raab shoots and taste just like them. Of course, they never get the chance to flower and go into seed for I pick them way before then!

    Nov 3, 2014 | 10:38 am

  6. millet says:

    bettyq, i never knew that. must tell hubby to wait for the “second coming”!

    Nov 3, 2014 | 10:51 am

  7. Jane says:

    Love Kale on my macaroni soup, thank you for posting, a good reminder to pick some up from the grocery as the cold bite started on my neck of the woods… and macaroni soup will be wonderful on a cold morning/night…And OMG, did not realize that bettyq is back until now, as I have been on travel the past few weeks and was not able to check the site…Welcome back, bettyq, am at the clinic but literally quietly screaming with joy, now that you are not MIA!

    Nov 3, 2014 | 9:17 pm

  8. Ben says:

    Mr. MM,
    That should be “cavolo nero” with accent on the “ca”. “Cavallo” means horse in Italian. The Tuscan kale I know is darker in color and has a more crumpled look.

    Nov 3, 2014 | 10:51 pm

  9. Gej says:

    Betty q, you got me excited about the side shoots! And with the recipe, MM.

    Nov 3, 2014 | 11:07 pm

  10. Voltaire Gungab says:

    Slight correction MM: It’s “cavolo” (accent on first syllable, Italian for cabbage). “Nero” means black. As you know, kale is a member of the cabbage family. The cavolo nero I’m famililar with has leaves that are a very dark green and elongated. Not sure if the leaves you show above are cavolo nero or another kale variety.

    Nov 4, 2014 | 8:04 am

  11. betty q. says:

    Geeeeeejo! kamusta na? I have sent you several emails using the farm address and your old address. Maybe napunta in your junk folder!

    Yep, the side shoots are worth waiting for! Have to harvest all the leaves as the season progresses till they look bald. Then the energy is put into producing the side shoots.

    How many rows of kale do you have?

    Oh, you have got to try planting butternut called HONEY NUT. I planted it this year and am very impressed!!!!! it is a cross between a regular butternut and a kabocha. Though it is a hybrid, the seeds are already stabilized. The skin starts out green and turns orange when mature. But it is the flesh that I think you will get excited about too! It has the texture of a kabocha so it is dense and sweet and malagkit! it is also a compact plant and very prolific! I planted 2 honey nuts and it yielded close to 20 fruits! The fruits are also mini….only about 4 to 5 inches at the most….good enough for 2 people!

    Nov 4, 2014 | 8:29 am

  12. Karen says:

    Cilantro or wansoy is not “impossible” to find, but it’s not easy, either. You have to go to a market that has vendors that cater to a Chinese population. Regular local talipapa markets usually only have kinchay.

    Finding wansoy at SM Supermarkets is also a hit or miss for me. When in luck (rarely) and I find a good, fresh delivery of wansoy, I buy a lot and put it on everything! I love wansoy! It helps detox heavy metals. S&R seems to stock wansoy though.

    But more often than not, should I chance upon wansoy at supermarkets, they are often wilted… such was my difficulty in finding a steady supply of wansoy that I once tried to plant some. They grew up spindly and weak, sadly.

    I think I’ll try again this month though :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    Nov 5, 2014 | 12:55 am

  13. Marketman says:

    Ben and Voltaire, thanks for that, my error, I have edited the post. Ben, I suspect these leaves are paler as they are quite small and young. The leaves seem to get darker as they grow larger.

    Nov 5, 2014 | 7:09 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Karen, if you hit weekend markets, rather than just the grocery, wan soy is frequently available and in a fresher form. If you buy it in the grocery, it tends to wilt in the chiller or simply because it has been sitting there for longer than a day. To revive, soak in cool water for an hour or so then put in a salad spinner or try with paper towels and store in the fridge rolled in paper towels. If you get an herb “keeper” and place the roots of wan soy in water, it also tends to perk up. It used to be that it was very hard to find wansoy during the rainy season, but now I find it almost every time I need it.

    Nov 5, 2014 | 7:15 am

  15. Meg says:

    Kale is also good for laing as substitute for taro leaves, you will be amazed how your guests will rave about this unique laing version.

    Nov 5, 2014 | 7:50 am

  16. Gej says:

    Betty q, you know I think the e-mails have not been reaching me. Kindly PM me at malipayonfarms@gmail.com. Thanks.

    Shy to admit it, but I’m glad you mentioned the side shoots. The kale plants have not reached that stage. I could have pulled them out if you did not share your idea!

    Kale is more of a winter veg, from the little I know. So it’s a challenge getting many kale varieties to be productive in the Philippines, hence the Manila prices. But now is a good time.

    There is also a time when they invite all sorts of insects – I suspect the stress the plants get from excessive heat makes them susceptible to insect attacks. So the plants get to be like X-rays on the field during these times.

    Nov 5, 2014 | 8:10 am

  17. millet says:

    Gejo, my husband sprays his veggies with a decoction from garlic and chili peppers boiled together into which some perla detergent has been mixed. since perla is coconut oil-based, it’s still pretty organic (i think), and it has worked so far. of course it’s a tiny garden, so i’m not sure if it would have the same effect on a place the size of your farm.

    Nov 5, 2014 | 9:06 pm

  18. Gej says:

    Thanks millet. I’ll try that.

    Nov 6, 2014 | 6:08 am

  19. erehwon says:

    @Meg, Thank you for that suggestion. I usually use collard greens to make laing, but have not tried kale. Kroger has both types of greens for 99 cents a bunch right now. I’ll get some kale tomorrow.

    Nov 6, 2014 | 12:18 pm

  20. Grace says:

    Hi MM (or any other reader who can answer my question),

    Speaking of wansoy, we’ve been trying to grow them but all attempts have failed so far. We’ve successfully grown basil (thai and the sweet variety), dill and mint. Our wansoy would survive up to a week or so only.

    We’ve tried keeping it in a shaded area / exposed in the sun / watered frequently / watered seldom but no luck. Any tips?


    Nov 6, 2014 | 4:14 pm

  21. betty q. says:

    Grace…cilantro is an annual but because it self seeds, some people mistake it for being a perennial. . Don’t know much about the season there when to plant it. You can grow them in pots so you can move them around if you think it is getting too much heat. I would check first though the viability of the seeds. Scatter some on a wet paper towel and put in zip plock. After a few days you should see a start of a root. If none, then it is past its prime. Next best thing, buy cilantro with roots still attached. Cut the leaves and put the stem with roots in a glass of water. In a few days, it should sprout some stems. Then plant it. This will give you a head start with strong roots already.

    Hope that helps!

    Nov 7, 2014 | 12:32 am

  22. Risa says:

    Grace – you may be overwatering. Cilantro is not too fond of water. You will notice they are hard to come by in groceries during the rainy season.

    If you’ve tried watering infrequently, check that your soil/medium is draining well.

    Nov 7, 2014 | 12:43 am

  23. betty q. says:

    Grace…forgot to ask you…when in doubt when to water, stick your finger into the soil if it is still damp, hold off on the water…if you want to plant it in a bucket or balde, poke holes in the bottom of the balde…then add a layer pea gravel or even cut styrofoam pieces for drainage and top with soil amended with compost. WAtering…try watering in the early morning hours. if you water say maybe tanghAli, the water just evaporates quickly before it can reach the roots. I water my plants in the morning but I could water them too early evening but I would rather not or the slugs will just feast on my plants and the mildew stays on the leaves and does not get the chance to dry up thereby inviting plant diseases.

    Nov 7, 2014 | 6:25 am

  24. Marketman says:

    Grace, I haven’t grown wansoy myself, but it does tend to be fickle. Gejo is perhaps best suited to answer your question. He manages to grow quite a lot of it in the cool hills of Silang/Tagaytay in rich soil.

    Nov 7, 2014 | 7:22 am

  25. Skye says:

    Thanks Gejo, Millet and Risa for the gardening tips. I was able to grow tuscan kale but the leaves got eaten by some type of worm before I get to harvest it. Also, I am able to grow wansoy on my bottle tower garden but although it’s not as green as those sold in the market. My vegetable garden is also small, one side of the house where the morning sun is. It occupies the 2 meter space required in the building code between house and fence.

    Nov 7, 2014 | 9:45 am

  26. betty q. says:

    Gejo, Millet, and Skye…keep in mind that natural organic pest control target specific pests but can also harm the pollinating insects which we desperately need with the decline of the bees!

    Your best bet to protect your crop…row cover!

    Nov 7, 2014 | 10:52 am

  27. Gej says:

    Grace, in addition to the tips shared by betty q and Risa, you might want to look at the way the plants are being watered. If the watering is too overpowering, aimed directly at the soil, in thick shoots, it may be unnecessarily compacting the soil . It matters a lot to plants , in general, and cilantro, especially, if the watering would try to imitate a gentle shower. Aim the hose a bit upward, and create a spray that falls gently on the plants and the soil. Placing a layer of mulch – decomposed or partially decomposed plant matter, or even fresh leaves – on the soil also helps to absorb the impact of water.

    Cilantro flourishes in well-tilled soil – probably because the roots are more free to grow and spread, there are more air spaces in between soil particles that contain plant nutrients, and the environment is more hospitable to beneficial macro and micro-organisms that help “cook” these nutrients for the plants . That is perhaps why cilantro greatly deteriorates during rains – the rain drops compact the soil and reduce or completely fill up the air spaces between soil particles,

    Proper watering preserves this soil tilth. Cilantro seems to be more sensitive to this than other plants. It’s also next to impossible to maintain this quality of the soil during rains (if the plants are not in a green house with a plastic sheet roof) , and cilantro becomes very thin, yellowish green, or dies during this time. Try planting cilantro 4-6 weeks before or after the rainy season.

    Nov 8, 2014 | 12:41 pm


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