Kale is one of a group of cabbage cultivars produced for their edible leaves, though some are used as ornamentals. Kale plants have green as well as purple leaves, and no head is formed by the central leaves (as with the headed cabbage). Kale are known to be similar to wild cabbage than any of Brassica oleracea’s other domesticated types.
Kale is a healthy and delicious vegetable that takes two months of cold weather to grow. Sow seed indoors or outdoors 4 to 6 weeks earlier to last spring frost or when the soil is ready. Kale is often begun indoors and transplanted into a garden when seedlings are between 4 and 6 weeks old. The kale leaves are similar to the cabbage. Scotch kale has gray-green stems, crumpled and curly. Siberian or blue kale is less curly and has a green-blue hue.
Kale favors fertile soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. Kale can withstand full sun or partial shade, as they planted for the leaves and not for the flowers. (Ample sunlight usually yields better flowers on plants.) If you live in a mild, dry environment, add some shade to your plant, particularly during hot afternoons. Heat can wilt the leaves and lose flavor. Grow kale in cold weather for maximum flavor.
Plant Kale seeds 1⁄2 inch deep separated by 3 inches. Thin out the plants roughly 1 foot apart when 4 to 5 inches high—space garden rows between 18 inches and 2 feet apart. Place the transplants up to the first set of leaves if it has crooked roots.
Routinely water the kale plants, so the soil remains moist uniformly. In addition to cooler temperatures, moist soil makes the kale leaves sweet and crunchy rather than harsh and bitter. Mulching your plants can help keep your soil cooler and maintain humidity.
Place fertilizer in the top 3 to 4 inches of soil while planting. Fed your kale during the growing season and follow the directions on the label of your fertilizer. Using compost or a variety of fertilizers with higher nitrogen.
Expect to wait for your plants to mature from seed for around two months. Check your seed or plant label’s maturity days for more accurate timing. You can harvest fresh kale leaves in salads or encourage your plants to grow up to be used as a cooked green.
Remove old outer leaves and allow development to begin in the center of the plant. Kale is perfect for harvesting during the summer months, but after a light frost, it is especially savory.
Put it in the refrigerator and keep it humid, but not in a sealed plastic bag if you need to store picked kale. For a week or two, it will maintain its crispness.
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