How to Grow Kale I
Kale is known as a “super food” because of its numerous health properties. It contains a lot of nutrients and it’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there. Kale contains fiber, calcium, lots of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. It’s a great vegetable you will sure want to have in your meals.
Kale is usually used as a green vegetable in salads or green smoothies. It’s a very powerful and nutritionally healthy food so it’s important to include it in your diet. For the best results and the healthiest kale you can get, it’s a good idea to grow your own kale.
Before you plant your own kale, it’s important to understand its different varieties. These varieties are most commonly grouped by the type of leaf. The most popular kale variety types include:
- Plain leaved kale
- Curly leaved kale (Scots Kale)
- Rape kale
- Leaf and spear kale (this is a hybrid of plain and curly leaved Kale)
- Cavolo nero (also known under other names, such as black cabbage, Tuscan cabbage, Tuscan kale, Toscano kale, dinosaur kale and Laicnato)
Each of these leaf types include numerous varieties you can choose from. It’s important to know that different varieties have different growth times from transplanting to harvesting. Here are some common varieties:
- Red Russian (40-60 days)
- Blue Armor (45-75 days, hybrid variety)
- Dwarf Blue Curled (55 days)
- Dwarf Blue Scotch (55 days)
- Blue Knight (55 days, hybrid)
- Winterbor (60-65 days, hybrid)
- Dwarf Green Curled (60 days)
- Konserva (60 days)
- Squire (60 days)
- Verdura (60 days)
- Blue Curled Scotch (65 days)
- Dwarf Siberian (65 days)
- Greenpeace (65 days)
- Hanover Late Seedling (68 days)
These are just some of the varieties you can choose to grow in your home or garden.
The good news is that kale is not so difficult to grow. It can even be grown in pots, which is a great thing for those who don’t have much space. This healthy vegetable doesn’t require much care and can be grown in numerous climate conditions. While it doesn’t prefer cold weather, it’s possible to grow kale in any season and in most climate conditions.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that certain properties of kale will change depending on the temperature, soil conditions and weather patterns. These conditions can influence the flavor, output and duration it takes kale to mature. On the other hand, kale is a strong vegetable and it can adapt to many conditions, so chances are that you won’t have much trouble growing it in your garden or your home.
To be one the safe, it’s important to keep it on temperatures higher than 20 degrees F but lower than 80 degrees F.
Generally speaking, if you want to start your kale from seed you should expect to have ready seedlings in about six weeks. This is when you will have your new kale seedlings you can plant in your garden or new pots.
When growing kale, it’s important to control the pests. Common pests include cutworms, cabbage loopers and cabbageworms. They all love to munch on kale, so you need to make sure they don’t spread. If you observe any pests on your kale, get rid of it immediately before they have a chance to do much damage.
When it comes to disease resistance, kale is proven to be strong and able to resist most of the common plant diseases. To keep your kale healthy, make sure to give it all the nutrients it needs. Also, pick off any weathered leaves so they don’t attract pests and disease.
The time needed for kale to fully mature depends on the variety (see above). It’s important to keep in mind that the time given is the one it takes kale to mature from transplanting until it’s ready to be planted. If you start your kale from seed, you also need to account for time needed for seedlings to develop.
Generally speaking, kale is ready to be harvested 70-95 days from seed and 55-75 days from transplanting. For specific growing times, check out the seed package or find information about the individual variety you wish to plant.
Tips on harvesting:
- You may begin to cut individual leaves off when they are mature enough. This usually happens when the plant is 8 to 10 inches high. Always start with the outside leaves.
- If you want to harvest the whole plant, make sure to cut two inches above the soil. In about 1 to 2 weeks, the plant will sprout new leaves.
- While it’s important to leave kale enough time to mature, don’t wait too long to harvest it. Old leaves will become tough and tasteless.
- In case you can’t eat all this kale fast enough so you keep leaving some leaves on the plants and they turn brown, don’t worry: you may use them to make compost. Pull them off so they won’t attract pests and waste the plant’s energy. You may later use them to make compost.
- Kale can be stored in the fridge up to a week. It’s best to be kept lightly moist and kept in an unsealed bag in the crisper bin.