How to Grow Kale Plants
As a member of the cabbage family, garden Kale plants are not well known.
Collards and Kale are closely related. They are strong flavored, open leafed
cabbage. They do not form a large, round head. Kale is most popular in the
southern part of the U.S.A.
Some varieties of Kale are used in flower gardens, as they make colorful
Despite being easier to grow than regular cabbage, why are very few gardeners
growing Kale? The answer is taste. Kale has a strong taste, and can be quite
bitter, especially in the warmer weather.
Kale- There are two major types: Curled leaves and plain or "straight" leaves.
There is also a flowering, or Ornamental Kale, that is popular in flower
beds and rock gardens. They produce colorful leaves or "flowers".
Sowing Kale Seeds:
Many areas can grow a spring and a fall crop. All members of the cabbage
family withstand frosts and freezes. Plan to place your seeds or seedlings
in your garden as one of the first crops. If you time your crop right, you
will have a couple weeks in the middle of summers' heat and humidity when
you are not growing Kale. This is actually good, as these plants do not like
high heat and dry conditions.
TIP: If you plant early in the year, consider using a raised row or
bed, to allow better drainage during early spring rains.
Indoors: Start your spring crop indoors four to six weeks before planting
outdoors. Plan to plant your seedlings outdoors very early in the season.
It can be planted outdoors before the last frost date for your area.
Plant seeds in containers 1/2 inch deep, in sterile starting mix. Water
thoroughly once, then lightly after the seeds have sprouted. Provide plenty
of sunlight or artificial grow lights so the plants do not become spindly.
Boost your plants health with a light application of liquid fertilizer once
or twice during this period.
Outdoors: Kale seeds can be direct sowed into the row, or seeded in
a separate area and transplanted to the row after a few weeks. We recommend
planting them together in a seedbed, and transplanting the seedlings. This
allows for better control of the spacing of your seedlings. This is a common
method for the second planting. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep. Water well and
make sure to keep the top level of soil moist, especially during the drier
Whether direct seeding or transplanting, make the final spacing 18 to 24
inches apart, in rows three feet apart. The outer leaves of a healthy plant
will spread and cover a lot of space.
Tip: For direct seeding, prepare the soil first. Then, place tomato
cages (to mark your planting) 18 to 24 inches apart. Sow several seeds
inside the ring of the cage. Thin to two plants a week after germination,
and to one plant after a couple of weeks. This avoids transplant shock ,and
affords proper spacing for maximum growth. Remove the tomato cages after
the seedlings have begun to grow.
How to Grow Kale Plants:
Growing Kale is easy.
Because Kale does not form heads, it is easier to grow than cabbage. The
young leaves can be harvested as the plant grows for salads, soups and other
Kale plants prefer full sunlight. Kale plants grow well in average and even
poorer soils. But like any plant, they respond favorably to richer soil high
Note: Make sure to provide plenty of nitrogen for a greener crop.
Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Dry conditions lead to bitter vegetables
in all of the vegetable world. Kale are no exception.
Days to Maturity:
Kale matures in 55 - 60 Days.The more tender, young leaves can be harvested
as soon as they reach a size that is easy for picking.
Insects and Pests:
All members of the cabbage family are extremely susceptible to insects. Kale
are no exception. Among the most common are aphids, and cabbage loopers.
Cabbage loopers the larva stage of a moth. Those white moths that visit your
garden and yard are the culprits. Effective treatment in the home garden
is to place a screen over the plant so the moth can not lay her eggs. Commercial
growers apply insecticides to control them. Aphids are controlled by frequent
spraying. Organic controls in the form of soap or garlic sprays are also
Kale plants are fairly resistant to most diseases.
Plant Problems - Diagnosis,
causes and cures for many common plant problems.
Kale, as previously mentioned, are among the hardiest of annuals. The plants
can withstand temperatures into the upper 20's. You know you have a hardy
plant when you go out to the garden in December, brush a little snow away,
and harvest some vegetables.
Did you Know? For all members of the cabbage family, flavor is better
in cool weather. Most growers will attest that the flavor is best after a
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