Growing kale, a relative of the cabbage, is an easy task in any climate including those with harsh winters and frequently cloudy skies…
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This extremely hardy plant actually tastes better after a frost or two, so planting in the summer two to three months before the first frost will yield you the most flavorful results come late fall/early winter. If you live in a cooler climate with mild summers you can also plant kale in early spring.
Plant seeds about ½ inch (12.5 mm) deep and about 18 inches (46 cm) apart in nutrient-rich, well-composted and well-drained soil. While kale will grow relatively well in partial shade, give it full sun if possible.
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Keeping your kale plants well-watered will encourage strong growth and prevent their leaves from getting overly tough, but stop watering after the first frost (for fall/winter crops) to prevent frost damage.
For even more rigorous growth, add a thin layer of aged compost every six weeks. Organic garden fertilizer for vegetables, while probably not necessary, will also provide a boost if applied every couple of weeks.
Depending upon the type of kale plants you have, harvest time is here when the leaves are either blue-green or bright green. For a tastier harvest, wait until the first frost before harvesting. And remember… there’s no rush! Kale can be harvested throughout the winter as long as it’s protected by a healthy layer of straw mulch.
To harvest individual leaves, start with the outer leaves first and cut off the stems with garden shears or scissors. To harvest the entire plant, cut it off a couple of inches (5 cm) above the soil.
Kale leaves do not store well, but you can keep your harvested plants in plastic bags for up to 2 weeks. As mentioned above, just leave it in the ground if you want it to last throughout the winter. It should be good in the ground for at least two months after the first frost (longer in warmer climates).
For longer out-of-ground storage, wash the leaves, remove their stems, water blanch for two minutes (less for younger leaves), then cool, drain, seal and freeze.
Kale seeds will last about 4 years.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Kale Plant. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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