What Does Kale Need to Grow?

What Does Kale Need to Grow?

Whether you plant edible gardens in rows or interspersed with non-edible ornamentals, kale (Brassica oleracea) deserves a prominent location. Not only is it packed with vitamins and minerals, it provides texture, colour and beauty to the garden. Kale plants have been cultivated by anglers for centuries. Simple to grow and easy to enjoy, kale varieties continue to pleasure kitchen gardeners today.

Delicious Diversity

Usually grown as an annual, kale produces all winter in Mediterranean-climate gardens. This hardy biennial shares exactly the same botanical name, genus and species, with a lot of different biennials, such as cabbage and cauliflower. The diversity in the species — known as cole crops, from the Latin word for stem — extends through the kales. Some varieties look like bloated, ruffled pompoms. Others have long, bumpy leaves. Colors range from pale purple and magenta to profound black-green. Whatever their physical appearance, kales discuss more than a title. All ask for exactly the same easy care and requirements.

Cole Culture

Adaptable kale thrives in full sun and well-drained, organic soil with pH near 6.0 to 7.5. But even poor, alkaline soils produce bountifully. Plant kale in mid-autumn for winter crops. Incorporate granular 8-16-16 fertilizer at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden area to boost cold-weather harvests. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, which trigger tender growth and leave kale vulnerable to insect pests. Kale can withstand temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Changes which occur with cold weather raise its own sweetness.

Harvest Hints

Baby kale can be chosen a few months after planting, depending on variety, but the sweetness that includes the cold snap is well worth the wait. Harvest outer, bottom leaves first. Leave the climbing tip protected by many sets of top leaves to keep new expansion coming through winter. You are able to sow seeds every few weeks for continual, mild-winter harvests, but germination slows with chilly temperatures. Wash kale thoroughly after harvest to remove aphids and other insects. A prompt plunge in cold water extends storage life.

Culinary Cultivars

Ornamental garden kales could be eaten, but culinary varieties offer more satisfying flavor. The 10-inch leaves of Tuscan kale (Brassica oleracea”Lacinato”) give life to a lot of Italian-kitchen staples. “Redbor” kale (Brassica oleracea”Redbor”) has flavorful, magenta frills that please the palate and the eye. Siberian kale”Winterbor” (Brassica oleracea”Winterbor”) brings tender, tasty ruffles to the table. “Red Russian” (Brassica oleracea”Red Russian”) has cut silver-green leaves with purple veins and stalks. Like most kales, the colour of its tender leaves in cool weather together with its own taste.

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