I am posting on a vegetable that I have tried to like but just don’t have a taste for it. Many of you do, so here is how to grow it. KALE….
Ever been told to “eat your greens?” Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can grow. It’s crammed with vitamins and powerful antioxidants, and it tastes de-licious. While easy to grow, there are a few crucial things to get right if you want to enjoy a truly bumper crop of health-boosting leaves.
This cold-hardy, resilient vegetable can be planted in spring or fall, and is the easiest member of the brassica family to grow. (The brassica family includes cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and other common cole crops.)
There are so many amazing flavors and textures to choose from that you just won’t find in the grocery store: mild, almost salad-like greens, sweet ‘Red Russian’ kales, or the nutty and sometimes peppery flavours of Italian kales, or handsome ‘Cavalo Nero’ or Tuscan kale, also called dinosaur kale because of its texture.
As well as being nutritious, kale is attractive, coming in a stunning range of varieties, from bright greens to dark purples, crunchy leaves to crinkled beauties and everything in between. It’s ornamental value can be appreciated in traditional garden beds or containers, especially in the fall.
Full sun and fertile soil produce the fastest, most tender leaders, though kale will tolerate partial shade as well. Add plenty of compost to the ground before planting and if your soil isn’t especially rich, top up its fertility by working in nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure into the ground before planting.
When to Plant Kale
For spring, you can set out starter plants quite early—4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost, and they will grow through summer until the weather gets to warm. Note: If temperatures are likely to dip well below freezing, it’s best to cover young plants at night.
For fall, direct-seed 3 months before your first fall frost date. Note: In areas with hot summers, you’ll need to delay sowing until temperatures start to cool off. The cool fall weather really brings out the sweet, nutty flavor of kale which can withstand hard frosts (25 to 28 degrees F) without experiencing damage.
Kale can also be grown as a winter vegetables under cover or outside in mild winter regions, like the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast. They’ll grow and yield all winter long. We suggest speaking to your local cooperative extension to determine if/when you should plant winter vegetables.
How to Plant Kale
Because the spacing between kale plants is quite big, at around inches, it’s preferable to start kale off away from the main growing areas, as it’s simply a more efficient use of space. It means you can then be growing something else in the ground, while your kale is still at the seedling stage elsewhere.
When planting, add fertilizer (1-1/2 cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 25 feet of row into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil).
Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch deep, 1 inch apart in rows 18 to 30 inches apart into well-drained, light soil.
After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so that they are spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Kale likes to have plenty of space to stretch out.
If you’re setting out young plants (transplants), plant them at the depth at which they are growing in the container. Space 18 to 24 inches apart.
After planting, water plants well.
See our video for growing perfect kale every time!
It’s important to keep kale well watered and fertilized. If rain is inconsistent, provide 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week (about 1 gallon per square foot).
Regularly feed kale with a continuous-release plant food.
Mulch the soil to keep down the weeds and keep kale cool. Kale won’t grow in hot weather.
Mulch the soil again heavily after the first hard freeze in the fall. The plants may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter.
Cabbageworms are a common pest. Chewed holes are the sign of the green or striped cabbage worm.
Flea beetles are tiny, usually black. They make tiny holes in the leaves of kale and several other plants.
Cabbage Aphids are easily solved with a spray of insecticidal soap, but keep your eye out for these tiny bugs which will be clustered between the leaves.
‘Vates’, which is a hardy variety and does not yellow in cold weather. It also has curly, blue-green leaves on 15 inch tall plants.
‘Winterbor’, which resembles the ‘Vates’ variety, but is frost tolerant.
‘Red Russian’, which has red, tender leaves and is an early crop.
‘Lacinato’ (aka ‘Lacinato Blue’, ‘Tuscan’, ‘Black Palm Tree’, or ‘Cavil Nero’): heirloom; straplike leaves up to 2 feet long on plants that resemble small palm trees; heat tolerant, and very cold-hardy.
‘True Siberian’: large, frilly, blue-green leaves; cold-hardy; pick all winter in some areas.
Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand. Pick about one fistful of leaves per harvest, but no more than one-third of the plant at a time. Start harvesting the oldest leaves first from the lowest section of the plant. Discard any yellowed or torn leaves.
Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plant). That’s the part that keeps the plant productive.
Kale will continue growing until it’s 20°F. Do not stop harvesting. A “kiss” of frost makes it even sweeter. (See local frost dates.)
To extend the harvest, protect with row covers. Or, create a makeshift cover with tarps and old blankets propped up by hay bales. Here are a few more season-extending ideas.
How to Store Kale
You can store kale as you would any other leafy green. Put the kale in a loose plastic produce bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.
WIT AND WISDOM
The chill of a moderate frost or light snow improves the flavor of kale.
Kale has a number of health benefits, as it is rich in minerals and vitamins A and C.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/plant/kale
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365