Growing Kale As An Ornamental Plant Or For The Kitchen
Kale is a member of the cabbage family but is one of the so-called
It is perhaps one of the simplest vegetables to grow because cold
weather doesn't bother it at all and in fact, cold weather makes it
taste a whole bunch better. I don't bother with it during the heat of
the summer but plan on eating it in the fall and late fall when
everything else has died off.
Flowering kale is still edible
Can Be An Ornamental
As an aside, Kale has also been bred to produce multicoloured leaves
and is used as a hardy ornamental plant for fall colour. These forms
are as edible as any other kind.
Kale likes what other members of the cabbage family like – full sun,
well-drained soil high in organic matter (add lots of compost) and
fertility. Try to rotate crops so that no other member of the cabbage
family has been in the same garden spot for two years before you plant
kale there. Keep it well watered during the heat of the summer and
you're in business.
For Fall Crops
For fall crops, sow the seed in mid June to the end of July directly in
the garden at one half inch deep.
Thin the plants to 12 inches apart in
the row with rows 30 inches apart. The thinnings make excellent salads
by the way.
It also helps to gently tamp down the soil over the seeds
to "firm up" the soil so the soil and even moisture are in contact with
You can harvest this plant is one of two ways. In October after your
first frost, you can cut down the entire plant and use it like you
would spinach in salads or cooking.
Or, you can harvest the inner leaves as they mature because they taste
better than those big outer leaves. You can harvest the inner leaves
right up until snow buries the plant. And just before snow comes,
harvest the rest of the plant for the kitchen. It will keep in the frig
for a surprisingly long time.
If you have the good fortune to live in a climate where zero degrees is
as low as it gets over the winter, you can mulch the kale and it will
provide a great crop of spring greens for early salads before the early
lettuce and spinach can be harvested. After the other greens are
available, pull up the plant and resow later in the season for best
growth and taste.
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