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  • Writer's pictureStronger Roots

Growing Kale

Updated: May 10, 2022


🔷BENEFITS

— Packed with fiber, iron, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium

— Contains Vitamins K, A, C and B6

— Loaded with antioxidants


🔷SEED WHEN/HOW TO PLANT

— Sow 3 to 6 weeks before the last frost/ 6-8 weeks before the first frost

— Germinates in 4 to 7 days

— Ph 6.0-6.8

•A few weeks earlier if starting seeds inside

— Well-drained soil

— In cool-summer regions, plant kale in early spring for summer to early fall harvest. In warm- and hot-summer regions, plant kale in late summer for harvest in late fall or winter. In mild-winter regions, kale can be sown in fall for winter harvest

❗️Cool weather brings out the sweet, nutty flavor

— Sow kale seed 1/4- ½ inch deep spaced 3inches apart;

— Thin plants 8-12” apart when they are 4 to 5” tall.

— Space rows 18 to 24”


🔷HOW TO GROW

— Full/Part Sun

— 55 to 75 Days Maturity

— Biennial (though grown as annual)

— 35 to 75 degrees, but is happiest between 60 to 70°F

BEST Grown in Spring and Fall

❗️Can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F

❗️Does NOT tolerate heat! (Quick to BOLT) Make sure you can harvest before daytime temperatures exceed 80°F

❗️Note that fall-planted kale that have grown through winter may be triggered to bolt by the lengthening daylight hours of spring, even if temperatures are still cool

— Keep the soil damp at all times – never soggy, but never dried out

— Mulch soil to keep Kale cool

❗️ Kale’s roots run horizontally from the central stem. Use mulch at the base of your plants to keep the soil cool, conserve moisture, and make it easier for roots to feed

— Mound mulch around kale once it is 6” high to prevent plant leaves from touching the soil

— Dress with compost/fertilizer (nitrogen-based) every 4-8weeks


🔷DIFFERENT VARIETIES


— Curly Kale



– Light to medium green leaves with deep frills. These compact, prolific kale plants have superior cold-tolerance; Vates, Winterbor, Blue Curled Scotch


— Lacinato



An Italian variety of kale with long, large, narrow leaves that are dark green to bluish in color. dubbed “dinosaur” kale because of the scale like appearance on leaves. Grows several feet tall.


Russian Kale



Generally have wide, mostly flat leaves with fringes around the edge – resembling the shape of large arugula or oak leaf lettuce. Some say Russian kale is the sweetest and the best-tasting type of kale. It can also remain more tender than some other types, even as leaves become quite large


— Portuguese Kale



Large, wide, flat paddle-like leaves with thick white veins. It is more reminiscent of collard greens. Portuguese kale is more heat tolerant than other kale varieties



🔷WHEN/HOW TO HARVEST

— Cut and Come Again Method

❗️ In most cases, you’ll be able to harvest from the same plant again in five to seven days

— If you harvest the entire plant, cut 2 inches above the soil and the plant will sprout new leaves in 1 to 2 weeks

— Start harvesting the oldest leaves firt from the lowest section of the plant

❗️Kale leaves left to sit on the plant become increasingly tough over time.

— The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and used in salads

❗️ Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plan) because this will help to keep the plant productive

— The more you harvest, the more it produces new leafy growth, and the taller and larger the plant becomes



🔷STORAGE

— Store the leaves in an air-tight container or bag with a tiny splash of water to prevent them from wilting

— Reduce excess moisture by waiting to rinse the leaves until you're ready to eat ( can store in refrigerator up to a week)

— Blanched kale can keep up to 6 months

— Wrap in paper towels and store in plastic bags


🔷TROUBLE SHOOTING

— Kale is susceptible to black rot and clubroot

— Aphids, cabbage loopers, cabbageworm, cutworms, flea beetles, and slugs ; Exclude with floating row covers

— To help reduce disease, do not plant kale or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.

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