In a garden full of brassicas, we always save two plots for kale and that keeps us in fresh greens longer than any other species.Red Russian kale is a perennial favorite in our house – it’s tender enough to eat raw and hardy enough to last through the first few touches of frost in the fall.Long after the lettuces are done, outlasting even the Swiss chard, our kale is often green and growing until snowfall.For some reason, groundhogs and rabbits tend to prefer brassicas to every other plant in the garden.Fungal or bacterial diseases can run rampant in kale beds if the right conditions exist.Keep your beds weeded, clear of debris, and open to the sunlight if you want to prevent fungal or bacterial infections in your plants.Those small, simple white butterflies (Pieris rapae) hovering around your garden are a common cause of holey leaves (slugs and cabbage loopers are the other two).All those pretty butterflies unleash a horde of green caterpillars into your garden when they lay eggs.They’re tiny and difficult to see, though, so sometimes it’s easier to simply spray the underside of the leaf with insecticidal soap.If cabbage white butterfly worms are already wreaking havoc on your kale plants, you may have to pick them off by hand.If your plants seem to be stunted and you see ragged holes throughout the leaves, it might be cabbage loopers (Trichoplusia ni).These caterpillars look like the beefier cousins of cabbage white butterfly worms and the damage is similar.Like cabbage worms, the looper can be prevented with row covers or plucked off of your kale plants and fed to your birds.Mix up a little insecticidal soap or treat with neem oil to keep aphids at bay.Harlequin bugs are bright, colorful pests that come out in force once the warm weather hits.If you’re noticing a lot of tiny holes in the leaves of your kale, it’s likely you have an infestation of flea beetles.These little pests tend to thrive in gardens where fall cleanup is minimal and regular weeding just doesn’t happen.Both of these at-home pesticides will fight off flea beetles, but remember to wash your kale leaves well before eating them after an application of either.This disease starts out as small, papery, brown spots on the leaves, but it quickly escalates.If your plants are in a dank, humid place without airflow or consistent sunlight – they’re much more likely to develop black rot.But if you’re stuck in the middle of a very humid season, or an excessively rainy month, black rot can develop even in open, well-weeded spaces.If it does develop, pull up your plants and leave the bed bare for a season to kill off the bacteria.If your garden has a history of fungal problems, use the copper spray before your plants show signs of infection.Then, if you think your garden needs a little bit of extra help preventing infection, use a copper spray to keep fungal and algae diseases at bay.These plants won’t completely prevent infection, but they do seem to help reduce the likelihood of bacterial diseases.A fungus that spreads quickly in rainy weather and creates dry, circular lesions on the leaves of your kale plant, Anthracnose (Colletotrichum higginsianum) is almost impossible to get rid of once it attacks.Downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica) is caused by a fungus-like pathogen called an oomycete.It shows up as a fuzzy (or downy) coating on the underside of the leaves along with patches of white or yellow – definitely not something you want to eat!Recently, we had a stretch of wet, cool weather in the summer that gave all these diseases an opportunity to flourish.In excessively wet seasons, extra spacing between rows and consistent weeding are your best weapons.Blood meal is an excellent way to add a bit of nitrogen without adding other unnecessary elements.Whenever one of the key elements for good growth is out of whack, your plants may end up growing leggy or stunted.This disease is caused by a number of fungus-like pathogens called oomycetes in the Pythium and Fusarium genera, as well as Rhizoctonia solani.Your best bet is to use cloches, fences, or row covers to protect your growing kale from these particular problems. .
How to Grow Kale and Which Varieties to Choose
The ambassadors of seed became connoisseurs of kale, and are ever at the ready with advice on how to achieve a year-round harvest and which variety is best suited to which culinary purpose. .
How to Grow Beautiful, Bountiful Kale
Kale’s popularity has taken off over the past decade, partly because it has been recognized by science as a “superfood” but also because it is wonderfully delicious.You can keep your starts well watered, safe from pests, and protected from extreme weather until they are 2 to 3 inches tall and strong enough to hold their own in the garden.Bottom watering keeps leaves dry and prevent tiny seeds and sprouts from being washed out of the soil.In climates where summer temperatures stay above 80°F for weeks at a time, it is easiest to grow kale during the “shoulder seasons”—from February to April or from September until November.Sow seeds every other week throughout the growing season to always have some young, productive plants, even when conditions are less than optimal.Mulch with straw and top with a floating row cover to help your plants survive the coldest months of winter.When the plants wake up in early spring, they produce big, strong leaves, followed by delicious, edible flowers.Curly Roja You will want to plant this dense, frilly variety in a spot where its purple-sage leaves and bright magenta stems can be appreciated.Compact plants grow a bit larger than Dwarf Green Curled kale but remain a good choice for a smaller garden.Dwarf Green Curled This robust, frost-hardy variety only gets about 18 inches tall, making it a good choice for containers and raised beds.Spinosad (the active ingredient in Monterey Garden Spray and Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew) also can be used for caterpillar control.All pesticides should be applied in the early morning or evening to minimize exposure to nontarget species like butterflies. .
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 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!Sow kale seeds in light, well-draining soil about ¼ to ½ inch deep.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.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! .
How to Manage Kale With Leaves that are Yellowing and Thinning
Although kale plants are usually extremely healthy and rarely contract diseases in a home garden, sometimes they can suffer from infections.Your best way to prevent this is to keep your plants healthy and grow them under the appropriate conditions, i.e., full sun and cool temperatures.Several types of pathogens can cause the leaves of your kale plants to turn yellow and thin out.While factors such as nutritional deficiencies and fungal infections can produce these symptoms, yellowing leaves on kale are usually due to bacteria.Immediately remove any infected plant to try and prevent the bacteria from spreading to the rest of your crop.Several species of bacteria cause the leaves of kale to turn yellow, including two major bacterial pathogens.For example, Psm prefers daytime highs of 65 F to 75 F, so it is more likely to be a problem in the Pacific Northwest or during the fall of warmer climates.However, in its early stages, some isolates of Xcc can cause the kale leaves to turn yellow.Both Psm and Xca infections start out with small water-soaked lesions with halos that grow larger and merge, resulting in widespread yellowing.However, some isolates can cause leaf blights and yellowing on kale in their early stages of infection.The test will cross-react with the closely related Xca bacterial leaf spot, so you can buy seed that lacks both of these pathogens.However, there are no tests for Psm, so you should try to purchase high-quality seed from companies that raise their plants in dry locations where they are less likely to contract these bacterial diseases that prefer wet conditions.If you irrigate too late in the day, your kale plants might stay wet overnight – another factor that makes them susceptible to infection. .
Growing Kale: How to Germinate, Water, and Harvest
Common Name Kale, ornamental kale Botanical Name Brassica oleracea Family Brassicaceae Plant Type Annual/biennial, vegetable Mature Size 1–2 ft. tall and wide Sun Exposure Full sun, partial sun Soil Type Loamy, moist, well-drained Soil pH Acidic (6.5 to 6.8) Bloom Time Spring Hardiness Zones 7–9 (USDA) Native Area Europe.Kale can be planted three to five weeks prior to your area’s projected last frost date in the spring.In most regions, gardeners can opt for growing kale in the summer by planting it at this time.Plant your kale in early spring if you plan to take cuttings in late summer.Soil that’s rich in organic matter and has sharp drainage is ideal, and the planting site also should get ample sunlight.Kale needs full sun to partial shade in most climates, as the fullest growth will occur when the plant gets six or more hours of direct sunlight on most days.However, if you live in a hot, dry climate, provide your plant with some shade, especially from the strong afternoon sun.Kale plants like to grow in a rich soil that's high in organic matter with a slightly acidic pH.The high nitrogen content provided by organic matter is crucial for healthy leaf growth.Water your kale plants regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.Along with cool temperatures, moist soil helps to keep the kale leaves sweet and crisp, rather than tough and bitter.Kale is a biennial plant, taking two growing seasons (or years) to complete its life cycle, but it's usually grown as an annual.Expect to wait approximately two months for your kale plants to mature from seeds.Check the days to maturity on your seed packet or plant label for more precise timing.Spring-planted kale will be good for harvesting throughout the summer months, but it's especially tasty after a light frost.You can harvest young kale leaves to use fresh in salads or allow your plants to mature for use as a cooked green.Plus, container growth is ideal if you don’t have garden space or the right soil conditions.An unglazed clay container is a good option because it will allow excess soil moisture to escape through its walls, helping to prevent root rot.Transplant your kale into the pot at the same depth it was growing in its previous container, and water it after planting.Plant the bottom half of the stem in a moistened soilless potting mix in a small container with drainage holes.You can direct seed in cold climates as soon as the soil temperature is at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit.Start plants indoors in a seed-starting mix about six weeks before your last expected frost date.Kale seeds germinate quickly in warm soil and should sprout up within five to eight days.Kale is a member of the cabbage family, which is notorious for attracting insect pests and for rot diseases.Kale is susceptible to black rot and clubroot, as well as aphids, cabbage loopers, cabbageworm, cutworms, flea beetles, and slugs. .
Kale Season: If You're Not Growing It, You Should Be
), I want to share growing tips, my fave varieties, and a recipe for chips you've got to try.Here are a few basics for growing your own, plus a delicious recipe for kale chips (highly recommend...).Growing: Fall is the time to sow seeds in the Southeast, when soil temperatures begin to cool.Redbor Kale: Great in containers, deep purple in color with ruffled edges.White Russian: This taller kale has grown beautifully this year.The cooler temperatures will bring out this kale beauty’s true colors.The shape of the leaf is long and dark green in color, with an unusual crumbled texture.It has been popular on tables in Tuscany and central Italy for many years, and is served in many local restaurants, too!Dry leaves, toss in a bowl and spray with an olive oil in an atomizer.The result is a light fluffy salt that adheres well to the oil without weighing the leaf down.If you want to try out some regional custom herb blends check out the creative combinations at our local Tea and Spice Exchange!You can also line your oven shelf with tin foil for greater surface area. .
how to grow kale, with sarah kleeger of adaptive seeds
If you want to coax the best character from your kale-growing efforts, timing is everything, says Sarah Kleeger (half of the Adaptive Seeds team, with Andrew Still).“Its flavor and texture improve tremendously in cold, even frosty, weather.In summer it is prone to aphids, the leaves get tough, and taste is markedly less sweet.Here’s what else I learned in Sarah’s and my recent Q&A (that’s her with Andrew and some of their other specialty crops, winter squash, above):.Q. I know you are Oregon, in Zone 7, and you have told me your last frost is maybe mid-May—so people will have to adjust a bit from your timeline, of course.This means we usually sow at the beginning of March, as plants usually need about 5 weeks from seed to transplant size.But if you have a lot of plants and a small amount of space you can squeeze them in and thin as they grow.Speaking of thinning and such: With all that kale to draw upon in your collection, I suspect you eat a lot of it, yes?Lots of recipes say to throw the kale stems out, but I think they’re a delicious, crunchy snack when raw, and add a nice texture when cooked (just throw them in the pan a few minutes ahead of the leaves).This year we had one week of 5˚F lows, and two of our 12 ‘Kale Coalition’ plants survived uncovered.Russian Frills is nice and frilly when large, and makes attractive bunches.Russian Hunger Gap holds on three weeks later than other kales before bolting (sending up raab), which gives more food later into the “hunger gap,” when your storage veggies are all out and the spring plantings haven’t yet come on.Madeley is a standout oleracea variety, hugely productive of tender, somewhat smaller leaves, but we’ve sold out and I don’t know anyone else currently offering it. .