Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Select Kale for Winter Color

kale with color, growing, organic


In comparison with its extra succulent cousins like cabbage and broccoli, Kale is usually considered a “coarse” vegetable, appropriate just for the winter backyard. How unfaithful! The leaves are wealthy with Vitamin A & C, iron and calcium and the superbly frilled Japanese varieties are an decoration in any backyard and make a placing garnish on any dish. On high of that, kale’s skill to offer tender greens within the early spring makes it a useful commodity when no different greens are in a position to produce.

Red Russian Kale A member of the Brassica household, Kale is understood botanically as Brassica oleracea selection acephala, which interprets to imply “cabbage of the vegetable backyard with no head”. Native to the Mediterranean, Kale has been grown as a leafy vegetable for 1000’s of years and is considered the ancestor of cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and even the flowering brassicas comparable to broccoli and

Kale is likely one of the simpler Brassicas to develop because it doesn’t want to go like cabbage and doesn’t fall over, as Brussels sprouts crops are likely to do. Actually, kale prefers a barely decrease fertility than cabbage since excessive nitrogen produces tender leaves that don’t face up to frost effectively. Soil that has been manured and limed the earlier yr is ideal for rising kale.

Right here on the West Coast, we normally begin kale in early July in order that they attain a great dimension earlier than the primary frost in October. Modify your beginning date accordingly. The crops needs to be spaced a minimal of 1 foot aside however will develop in additional crowded circumstances. Nevertheless, the extra room you give the crops, the extra they may produce. Most crops
mature between 50-80 days.

Though kale is chilly hardy and may survive temperatures as little as 0 F, if gentle climate is adopted by a sudden freeze, it will probably kill the crops. Cowl your crops with a floating row cowl or a cloche and mulch across the crops to guard them towards freeze-thaw cycles. If temperatures do go beneath 0 F, you’ll be able to bury the crops in mulch. Brush the mulch apart when you want to harvest.

Redbor Kale Like most winter greens, the style of kale improves after the primary frost. Right here’s a tip: when harvesting, reduce the leaves rising from the middle of the stalk. The bigger ones on the backside are usually powerful whereas the youthful ones on the high are subsequent week’s harvest. By about late December-early January, my kale is trying a bit tatty. Nevertheless, as temperatures start to heat up in March, a brand new flush of leaf progress seems on the crops and I’m selecting once more. Right now, I prefer to fertilize with both fish emulsion or compost to encourage extra progress. By about April, the crops start to ship up flower shoots. Don’t fret! These flower heads have a light broccoli style and for those who break off the flowering head utterly, aspect shoots will appear as if in broccoli.


In his ebook dated 1885, Vilmorin listed 26 kinds of kale together with leaf kales, tree kales, and marrowstem kales. Few of those varieties are nonetheless round right now though heirlooms comparable to “Lacinato” are making a comeback because of seed saving teams. Most kales varieties belong to 1 of 4 varieties: Scotch (very curly leaves), Russian (flat leaf, serrated edges), Japanese (decorative rosette varieties) and Different – (Lacinato, strolling stick and so forth). Here’s a listing of a few of my favorite varieties:

  • Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch – squat plant, chilly hardy, simple to mulch if temperatures drop, might be grown in a 5-gallon container.
  • Winterbor F1 – Scotch kind, hybrid selection, very winter hardy
  • Redbor – a purple Winterbor, extraordinarily decorative though the style isn’t nearly as good. Lacinato Kale
  • Purple Russian – purple veins at starting of season flip purple within the fall, flat leaves in all probability most tender of all kale varieties and might be eaten recent in salads
  • Nagoya – Japanese kind, deep middle, frilly is available in white or purple, good tasting
  • Peacock – Japanese kind, deeply serrated leaves, giant head, higher for moist climates.
  • Lacinato (Nero diTosca) – Italian heirloom, darkish blue-gray leaves, puckered & as much as 2 ft lengthy, hardy and decorative


Few insect pests hassle kale. Slugs and aphids might be hosed off simply on this sturdy plant. Imported cabbageworm appears to be the one pest that may do severe injury to kale. Handpick the worm or forestall the butterfly from laying its eggs through the use of a floating row cowl. In any other case, spray with BTK for an natural remedy.

Arzeena Hamir is an agronomist and President of Terra Viva Organics. When she’s not planting peas or selecting zucchini, she solutions questions on natural gardening at: You can too learn her gardening articles on Vegetable Gardening at



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