WHEN TO PLANT

  • Plant seeds in the early spring once the ground can be worked
  • Protect germinating seeds or young plants from a heavy frost, under 25°F, with row covers
  • Mild frost won’t harm your growing kale; in fact, frost will improve the flavor by making the leaves sweeter
  • For growing a fall/winter crop of kale, broadcast seeds 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date

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WHERE TO PLANT

  • Kale thrives in cooler temperatures and does well in partial shade and overcast climates
  • In dry, warm climates, growing kale in partial shade will help keep moisture levels even; a layer of mulch will also help keep your soil cool
  • In hotter climates full sun exposure makes the leaves tough and bitter

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PREPARING THE SOIL

  • Kale is a rich, mineral bearing member of the “brassica” family, and does well in generous amounts of compost
  • Keep you pH levels between 6.0-7.0

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SEEDS AND GERMINATION

  • Kale seeds will germinate in temperatures as low as 45°F, but will germinate much more quickly (5-10 days) at 70-75°F
  • Once you’ve purchased your seeds, they should be good for up to 4 years

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GETTING STARTED INDOORS (and transplanting)

  • Plant kale indoors six weeks before last frost

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PLANTING/GROWING (Planting seeds directly into the garden)

  • Although kale will grow well in cooler weather, warming your growing area with black plastic will give you a quicker start
  • Seed depth should be about ½”
  • Seed spacing – 6 to 8 inches – thin to 16 to 24 inches once plants reach about 6 -12 inches in height
  • Before the summer heat arrives, apply mulch around plants to cool the roots. This will conserve moisture and prolong your harvest. Kale gets tough and tasteless in hot conditions
  • Water every 3 to 4 weeks with a fish emulsion and/or compost tea
  • Jenny’s Tip: This past year we discovered a liquid organic fertilizer, a leaf spray called Organic Garden Miracle™, that naturally stimulates your plants, including kale, to produce more plant sugar. Plant sugar is the basis for the size, health, taste, and nutrition in your plants. Needless to say, we’ve been very impressed with this new product. Use this spray every couple of weeks

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WATERING

  • Water your kale heavily throughout the hot part of the growing season; water sparingly in the fall until heavy frost

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COMPANION PLANTING / ROTATION

  • Planting where other brassica family members (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) have previously been grown should be avoided as it may encourage pest proliferation.

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WHEN TO HARVEST

  • The young, tender foliage of this vitamin and mineral-rich plant can be harvested for salads
  • As the growing kale plant develops, harvest the outside leaves
  • If the leaf has a thick center stem, remove it
  • When the kale plant has enough foliage to spare, you can pick extra leaves to blanch, chop and freeze for soups later on
  • Kale is good food for pets such as rabbits. Check with your breeder, though. Young rabbits must wait until age appropriate for this garden treat. We also feed it to our chickens and goats

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STORAGE

  • Two weeks in the refrigerator is the normal shelf-life for kale
  • Kale can also be chopped, blanched, and frozen for winter cooking

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COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS

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