Kale

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Botanical name: Brassica oleracea acephala

Plant type: Vegetable

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral to Slightly Alkaline

Bloom time: Varies

Kale is a hardy, cool-season green that is part of the cabbage family. It grows best in the spring and fall and can tolerate all fall frosts. Kale can be used in salads or as a garnish and is rich in minerals and vitamins A and C.

Planting

  • You can plant kale anytime from early spring to early summer. If you plant kale late in the summer you can harvest it from fall until the ground freezes in winter.
  • Mix 1-1/2 cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 25 feet of row into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.
  • Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep into well-drained, light soil.
  • After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so that they are spaced 8 to 12 inches apart.

Care

  • Water the plants regularly but be sure not to overwater them.
  • Mulch the soil heavily after the first hard freeze; the plants may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand.
  • Pick about one fistful of leaves per harvest. Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plant) because this will help to keep the plant productive.
  • The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and used in salads.
  • Cut and cook the larger leaves like spinach, but be sure to remove the ribs before cooking.
  • You can store kale as you would any other leafy green; put the kale in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Vates', which is a hardy variety and does not yellow in cold weather. It also has curly, blue-green leaves.
  • 'Winterbor', which resembles the 'Vates' variety, but it is frost tolerant.
  • 'Red Russian', which has red, tender leaves and is an early crop.

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

The chill of a moderate frost or light snow improves the flavor of kale.

Comments

What can I use to deter pests

By Dan Gambardella

What can I use to deter pests chewing small holes in the kale leaves?!

The Diamondback moth larva

By Almanac Staff

The Diamondback moth larva makes small holes in kale leaves. Cabbage worms can also be a problem.B.t. insecticide will control all the cabbage caterpillars.

this comment section is/and

By gerard cunningham

this comment section is/and has been so helpful.
many of my questions are answered before i ask.

thank you.

We are glad you find the

By Almanac Staff

We are glad you find the information helpful, Gerard. Good luck in the garden!

Hi. I grew purple kale this

By Mike 1981

Hi.

I grew purple kale this year in 15" pots from seedlings picked up at the local nursery. The plants did great until I harvested for the first time. I left a few good leaves on each plant and they've pretty much all wilted and died. The ones with a few robust green leaves still on them only have about an inch of root left. Can these be brought back to life? How? Thx.

My purple kale in squamish BC

By Nigel

My purple kale in squamish BC has done amazing all winter. now with flowers opening up in top will those flower buds act as seeds? I cut down the stalks but left the stem and roots with a few little growths. I tryed planting the flower buds as seeds. will I have any luck with any of these trials?

Hi Nigel, Flowers are the

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Nigel,

Flowers are the first step on the way to seeds. The bees need to pollinate the flowers for them to be able to form seeds. I wouldn't bother planting the flowers. The stem and roots may produce something--it depends upon a number of things.

I had some insect on my kale

By Arline Gidion

I had some insect on my kale last year, all over
Do not know what the were bit ugly and
I pulled out my kale plants. Any recommendation
how to get rid of insects on kale. A

By mid-summer, my kale was

By Pat Hockett

By mid-summer, my kale was wormy & bitter. I cut it down to about 6" tall & removed any remaining leaves. It leafed out again & I had a nice fall crop. Dispose of the leaves (& worms). Don't try to compose them.

There are a variety of

By Almanac Staff

There are a variety of insects that love kale. See the pests mentioned above to identify.

Good guidance. Can kale grow

By ratna

Good guidance. Can kale grow indoors without direct sunlight?

Kale will grow in low light

By Joshtulkin

Kale will grow in low light conditions, just not very fast. I threw old plants that were going to seed under my deck and they grew. You may need some light to get the seedlings going. I've also grown red Russian and curly kale in pots. Again, much lower yield but if you've got the space, still work it.

I grow kale & Swiss chard

By Pat Hockett

I grow kale & Swiss chard under a grow light & use the small leaves in green salads to accompany my grow-light lettuce.

Hi Ratna, I've never tried

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Ratna,

I've never tried it myself, but you might be able to grow it under grow lights.

It is possible to harvest

By Jorge

It is possible to harvest Kale in the caribbean?

Hi Jorge, I don't really

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Jorge,

I don't really know. Kale is generally considered a cool weather crop. Ask at a local nursery.

I live in North Carolina

By KellyF

I live in North Carolina (Zone 7B) and the birds ate all my kale seedlings in the fall. Is it possible to start new seeds indoors now and transplant to my garden in a few weeks? Or will it be too cold for it to start?
Thank you.

Start your seeds indoors in a

By Almanac Staff

Start your seeds indoors in a sunny location about 8 or 9 weeks before your expected last frost date. Transplant the seedlings out into the garden 3 weeks after you started them (6 weeks before your last frost date). They will tolerate the cold.

I'm an apartment dweller who

By Kale-iscious

I'm an apartment dweller who recently acquired one with a balcony. Can you provide some suggestions / probability of successfully growing kale in containers? Specifically hoping to grow lacinato and curly purple varieties. Thanks.

I have Kale growing in a pot

By Susan New

I have Kale growing in a pot with lavender right now. I pick it while it is no bigger than my hand and usually smaller. It is good in salads or in small batches of pesto which for me is often just olive oil and Kale. It gets a few hours of more direct light but is mostly getting indirect. This is not the large hearty kale like in my outdoor garden ( I am lucky to have a community p-patch garden). It is delicate and delicious.

Dear Kale-iscious, I have

By Celeste Longacre

Dear Kale-iscious,

I have never grown kale in pots, but don't see that it couldn't be done. Just use the biggest pots that you can find and make sure that they get at least 6 (preferably more) hours of Sun. Also, give them lots of organic matter (old manure, compost, etc.).

I sowed kale seed in my new

By Winter Gardener

I sowed kale seed in my new cold frame which has 12,000+ lumens of wintertime supplemental light here in NH. It all germinated and is now about 3" tall and is tightly spaced. If I use scissors to cut bunches of baby kale will it regenerate as lettuce would? Or must I harvest individual leaves to get the plants to continue to produce (as we have been doing in the open garden for 3 to 4 months now). Thanks.

Dear Winter Gardener I am

By Celeste Longacre

Dear Winter Gardener

I am not 100% sure, but I suspect that it will not generate like lettuce. I generally pick individual leaves from the outside or bottom first.

My kale plants are currently

By stefanie

My kale plants are currently covered with melting ice. Is it ok to harvest some leaves now, or will that harm the plant?

Kale is a cold-weather

By Almanac Staff

Kale is a cold-weather champion and can withstand a hard frost; this even makes the veggie taste sweeter. Kale can even survive an extreme freeze; you may lose some leaves but when the temperature warms up to 0 degrees, the leaves start to regrow.

Can I put kale seeds directly

By jackie crean

Can I put kale seeds directly in the ground now, even in the middle of summer? I live in southern NJ

You can plant kale in your

By Almanac Staff

You can plant kale in your area as a fall crop. Planting seeds mid-July through late August is fine. (Southern readers: wait until October before planting.)

Harvesting Early

By Anonymous

I planted Winterbor Kale April 16th it is growing wonderfully. Maturity is 55-60 days but in the next few days the temp. will reach above 80 degrees. Can I begin harvesting now before it gets too hot and the leaves get bitter?

summer

By Anonymous

I just planted some curly kale plants. I keep reading that it is a cool weather plant. Is it too hot in the summer to grow kale?

Yes, kale is a cool-season

By Almanac Staff

Yes, kale is a cool-season vegetable that is grown primarily in spring and fall. For good taste, kale is best harvested before summer heat or after frost in the fall to avoid bitter leaves.

How to harvest?

By Anonymous

Do you just cut off what you need each time and leave the plant to keep regrowing or do you harvest the whole thing and it is done?

With kale, you can harvest

By Almanac Staff

With kale, you can harvest the outer leaves when they are mature and allow the smaller inner leaves to keep growing.

flowers

By Anonymous

Once the plant has gone to flower, should it be cut back ?

I have a good sized patch of

By Ross Chatwin

I have a good sized patch of blue curled kale I grew mid July of last year in northern Arizona, it flowered and seeded this june after a great harvest through a -15 degree winter. I harvested the seed pods and now the plants are all producing more kale than ever. when will they exaust and die?

Yes, your plant has bolted

By Almanac Staff

Yes, your plant has bolted and it is the end of its lifestyle. It is probably too warm now. Replace this cool weather vegetable with a new plant.

Cut the flower buds off

By Anonymous

If you keep it from flowering, it will keep producing leaves. Pinch or cut the buds off.

freezing kale?

By Anonymous

Can kale be frozen, hopefully?

Yes, you can freeze kale.

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you can freeze kale. Wash it and cut off stems. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, then submerge in ice water. Spin in salad spinner and dry. Then, place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or flat surface. Put in freezer until frozen. Then, you can shake into an airtight container.

Recipe

By Anonymous

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/

kale chips are amazing ive been eating these for years.

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