There are plenty of reasons why you might want to know whether kale, Brassica oleracea, the star of many a spring or fall veggie garden, is an annual or a perennial.As biennials, in their first season in your garden, kale plants will put all their energy into leaf production, growing bushy and lush under the right conditions.In USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10, biennial kale will continue to produce edible leaves throughout the winter.While in colder zones, these plants will go dormant during the winter – which means their leaves may die back, but their root systems will remain alive.While the biennial is focused on reproduction in the second year, its edible leaves will not be as tender, so they may be better suited for use in cooking than eating raw.Shortly after your plants start flowering, you’ll begin to see long, slender seed pods developing.ramosa) Named after a French naturalist, ‘Daubenton’ is a short-lived perennial variety that doesn’t go to seed – instead it is propagated through cuttings.Sometimes known as perpetual kale, the leaves of this green vegetable are mild and nutty tasting, less bitter than its biennial relatives.This cruciferous plant gets its vivid common name from its long stalks, which were traditionally dried and repurposed into – you guessed it – walking sticks.Hardy down to 10°F or lower and perennial in USDA Zones 6 to 9, ‘Walking Stick’ prefers neutral or alkaline soils.The proper harvesting of the leaves will encourage this plant to grow long stalks, which easily grow to 6-10 feet tall at maturity as a backyard garden plant, but can rise to a towering 20 feet tall with favorable conditions.The leaves of this plant were traditionally used as animal fodder, but seed saving enthusiasts have brought it back as a culinary oddity.It is hardy in Zones 6 to 9 and will grow well in coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest, where the cool summers are similar to those of its native habitat.If the young shoots and leaves from this plant are blanched while they are growing, or hidden from the sun to stop the process of photosynthesis, this gives them a pleasant nutty flavor when cooked. .
10 Tips for Growing Kale
Start spring seeds indoors approximately six weeks before the last frost to give plants a chance to mature before summer’s worst heat.Plant your crop again in the fall, six to eight weeks before the first expected frost — you can keep harvesting even after snowfall.Kale is buddy-buddy with beets, celery, cucumbers, herbs, onions, spinach, chard, and potatoes.Protect young plants with row covers like this to stave off flea beetles and provide a buffer against any unexpected temperature dips.Picking off unhealthy-looking leaves and keeping your plants well-fed with compost and water will also reduce insect damage in your vegetable garden,.Use straw or grass mulch at the base of your plants to keep the soil cool, conserve moisture, and make it easier for roots to feed.This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. .
How to Harvest Kale
The timing and methods you use depend on if you are growing plants for baby greens or mature leaves.At this point, healthy plants will have upwards of ten leaves, with small ones in the center and larger ones on the outside.If you’re looking to grow baby kale, plants will be ready to pick and enjoy in 25 to 30 days after they are sown.The harvest period usually occurs once in late spring or early summer, and again in autumn.Depending on your growing zone and the time of year, you can gather new greens every one to two weeks.If your soil is soft or your plants are newly established, you can use a knife or scissors instead of your hands.If you see discolored or heavily insect-eaten leaves, make sure to remove these and discard them, or add them to the compost pile.My preferred method is to grab a handful and cut them off one to two inches above the ground, using a knife. .
At what point does kale stop producing?
When the daylight hours shorten you'll not be able to keep up as that is another trigger telling that plant time is short and you need to make seed!Once that plant sets seed...hey its life is fullfilled and will start dying.If a gardener wants more of a vegey, definitely what you intuit is to start fresh crops every 2 weeks apart...hey, what do you use your kale FOR? .
How to Grow Kale: Guide to Plant, Harvest & Use Kale ~ Homestead
Kale is one of the most popular dark leafy greens around, prized for its high nutrient-density and numerous health benefits.In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to grow kale at home – from seed (or seedling) to table.Tips for ongoing care, potential pests, and how to harvest, use, and preserve kale are included too!Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products for your convenience, such as to items on Amazon.Homestead and Chill gains a small commission from purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you.It is generally considered a ‘cool season crop’, like its fellow members of the brassica plant family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.Yet in moderate climates with only mildly warm summers or little-to-no winter frost, kale can continue to grow for up to a year, or longer!Kale grows exceedingly well as a fall crop in many regions – where there is a longer period of cooling weather ahead.In fact, kale leaves taste better in colder weather, and develop a sweeter flavor after a kiss of frost!Hardy kale grows longer into the freezing winter months than most leafy greens, said to withstand temperatures down to 10°F.On the flip side, brutal heat can quickly cause kale to “bolt” – or begin to flower and go to seed.Note that fall-planted kale that have grown through winter may be triggered to bolt by the lengthening daylight hours of spring, even if temperatures are still cool.SubscribePlanting calendars are available for every growing zone in the Homestead and Chill subscriber free garden planning toolkit.If you don’t have one yet, grab a planting calendar here to help guide your timing – they are available for every USDA hardiness zone!As long as they’ve been properly hardened off, the stem of tall seedlings can be buried up to their first set of leaves.It is not an incredibly ‘heavy feeder’, though it is best to amend the soil with well-aged compost and/or a well-balanced natural fertilizer before planting kale.Ample nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, minerals, organic matter, and beneficial microbial activity within the soil will lead to the most robust kale plants possible.If you’re growing kale in the spring with hot summer weather on the horizon (regularly over 90°F), consider a planting location that receives some afternoon shade.That added protection (along with choosing the right variety) will help your kale survive longer before it ‘bolts’ and goes to seed.I also try to keep kale along the back (north side) of garden beds since it can quickly become tall and shade out smaller, shorter plants.This raised bed is facing east, so it gets morning to midday sun but then is shaded in the afternoon by the tall westerly fence behind it.There are a handful of general kale types, and within those groups, dozens of unique cultivars to choose from.Varieties include classic Tuscano, extra-dark Black Magic, or purple-veined Dazzling Blue – our personal favorite.Russian Kale – Generally have wide, mostly flat leaves with fringes around the edge – resembling the shape of large arugula or oak leaf lettuce.– Generally have wide, mostly flat leaves with fringes around the edge – resembling the shape of large arugula or oak leaf lettuce.– Hailing from the Mediterranean, this lesser-known type of kale has large, wide, flat paddle-like leaves with thick white veins.In this south-facing garden bed, I should have ideally swapped the kale locations and/or put that middle row of bok choy in the very front.As the growing season continues, we transition to watering the garden beds with homemade compost tea (made from worm castings) once every few months.For especially long-lived kale, apply a fresh top-dressing of compost mulch once the plants reach 6 months old (if you intend to keep them around a bit longer).There are a number of ways you can extend your kale growing season, be it into the warmer summer months or through the depths of winter.While established kale plants can withstand some frost and snow, young seedlings are more sensitive and need protection.Even mature kale plants will also appreciate a little added frost protection for extended cold periods, which can increase their winter lifespan in the coldest climates.The best way to harvest kale is with the ‘cut and come again’ method – by removing a few of the oldest leaves on the plant each week (or as needed).The oldest leaves are those on the bottom, outermost portion of the stem – closest to the soil rather than the center of the plant.The most common pest insects that fancy kale include cabbage worms, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, and aphids.This list may sound a tad daunting, but we generally find our kale to be fairly resilient.Our greatest struggles here are aphids and cabbage worms, but both are easy to control in an organic manner – especially if you practice proactive prevention, or catch the problem early!Occasionally, treat with DIY soap spray (for aphids) or bacillus thuringiensis (for caterpillars) if the infestation is more advanced.To enjoy cooked kale, we love to simply sauté it – with a little splash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and sometimes a bit of garlic and onion.Crunchy homegrown kale chips, seasoned with sea salt, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and homemade garlic powder.The quick and easiest way to de-stem kale is to hold the end of the stem in one hand, pinch the base of the leafy portion with the other, and then simply pull them in opposite directions – stripping the leaf away.I’ll admit that we consume most of our kale fresh or cooked, and don’t preserve a great deal of it.The texture won’t be great for eating raw once it defrosts, but is the perfect addition to soup, smoothies, or stew.I hope you picked up some valuable tips on growing kale today, and have a kale-r harvest in your future! .
What to Do When Leafy Greens Begin to Flower
In most cases I advocate harvesting and eating leafy greens like kale before they begin to flower.Moreover, there are ways to put flowering kale and similar bolting plants to good use.When this happens, these a kale plant that’s flowering becomse a source of homegrown seed for your next crops.Garden fowl love to peck away and munch on leafy greens — even if they’re a little stringy and astringent for your pallet.In fact, we have an entire series of lessons in our program focused on growing, harvesting and eating kale and many other delicious plants. .
Curly Kale: Extra Cold Tolerance, Highly-Productive Crops
Light requirements: Full sun is ideal, but plants yield in part shade.Frost-fighting plan: Established plants tolerate hard frosts (temperatures below 28º F) and produce new leaves all winter long in zones 7 to 10.Common issues: Watch out for cabbageworms, harlequin bugs, slugs, grasshoppers, and cabbage aphids.Storage: Refrigerate unwashed leaves in a lightly damp paper towel slipped into a very loosely closed plastic bag and store up to 5 days. .
How to Grow Kale Indoors: Harvest Fresh Leaves Without Going
I’ve already documented my love of this superfood that I plant outdoors in my raised beds.Growing plants in the house means I don’t have to go traipsing outside with a flashlight in the winter when I need to harvest some leaves in a pinch for a dinner recipe.The tender young seedlings are perfect to use in sandwiches, stir fries, and rice bowls.In my experience, you get more bang for your buck by growing curly kale into more mature plants.Kale plants tend to grow smaller indoors, which actually might make the leaves a bit more palatable to those who aren’t a fan.Whichever types of kale you decide to grow, you may want to stagger your sowing so that plants mature at different times.If you don’t want to go to the trouble of starting seeds, you may be able to purchase an established kale seedling at a local garden centre.Before I start my seeds later in the winter, my grow light setup has lots of room to place other plants and experiments.If you have the space, kale and other salad greens are pretty quick and easy to grow.Fill a seedling flat that has drainage holes with a potting mix formulated for growing vegetables.Whichever way you water, consistent moisture helps promote good seed germination.If you don’t have a grow light setup, you can still plant kale seeds indoors.Set up a monthly schedule and apply a dose of organic liquid plant food (according to the package directions).As with a mature plant, try to harvest the outer leaves first like you would outdoors with cut-and-come-again salad greens. .
When Should I Plant Kale? Read Before You Plant – Bountiful
If sown indoors, plant out the transplants when they have a few healthy leaves and are a couple inches tall.You can even direct sow outside before your last frost, as long as the soil is workable, but covering the ground with some plastic will speed up germination.Kale is unlike a lot of leafy green vegetables in that it can grow all year long.Lettuce, spinach, and arugula, for example, will all bolt (produce a flower stalk) when the weather gets too hot.Even when it does bolt, the taste of kale doesn’t change much, and the buds can be harvested and eaten like little broccoli florets.Combining the fact that kale can be successfully grown any time there isn’t persistent frost with cut-and-come-again harvesting means you can keep getting consistent harvests every 1 to 3 weeks (less often in the colder months) from each kale plant until the frost pauses growth completely. .
Lacinato Kale: Learn How to Grow This Delicious Heirloom Kale
The leaves are thinner and more tender than other types of kale making this an excellent choice for both raw and cooked dishes.Plus, it’s quick and easy to grow with a baby crop ready to harvest a month from seeding and mature leaves just four weeks later.The plants can grow up to three feet tall and when mature look a bit like miniature palm trees with a rosette of narrow leaves held atop straight stems.This unique kale is tolerant of both hot and cold weather, but is less winter hardy than varieties like Winterbor and Red Russian.When sowing seed in mid to late summer for a fall or winter harvest, I like to float a length of row cover or shadecloth over top the bed on hoops for the first week after planting.The summer weather is often hot and dry and providing a bit of shade helps reduce water evaporation from the soil and encourage good germination.Kale likes well-draining, fertile soil so amend the bed with compost or aged manure before planting.Lacinato kale can be direct seeded in the spring garden or started indoors and transplanted outside once the seedlings are a few inches tall.Once the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, feed them with a diluted liquid organic fertilizer at half the recommended rate.This is a quick way to grow greens with the leaves ready to pick just four to five weeks from seeding.I water the plants deeply once a week if there has been no rain from late spring though early autumn.I plant lacinato kale in my raised beds but I also grow it in containers on my sunny deck.You can also add a slow release organic granular fertilizer to the growing medium to promote steady growth all season long.As the plants grow continue to water regularly and keep an eye out for pests like cabbage worms.In my garden I often battle two pests on my kale plants: slugs and imported cabbage worms.I find hand-picking early in the season is a great way to put a dent in the overall slug population.Hand pick eggs and caterpillars from the tops and bottoms of the leaves a few times a week.Lacinato kale is a quick growing green and impatient gardeners won’t have to wait too long for that first harvest.They grow about a foot long and make high quality kale chips, as well as add a nutritional punch to soups, salads and pastas.The plants grow two and a half to three feet tall, but can also be sowed densely for baby salad leaves.The plants grow two and a half to three feet tall, but can also be sowed densely for baby salad leaves.– Black Magic is an improved variety with vigorous, uniform growth and better cold tolerance and bolt resistance.Rainbow Lacinato – I love this gorgeous variety by famed breeder Frank Morton. .