Kale handles cold and heat well and may be the hardiest vegetable you’ve ever raised. Plant outside as soon as the soil can be worked. Space plants 24″ apart in rows 3′ apart. A side dressing of compost, when the plants are about one-third grown, may be helpful as Kale is a heavy feeder. Regular, heavy watering is best for optimal growth.
Harvest younger leaves starting from the middle and work your way up the stalk as it grows. Keep some of the leaves on the bottom to feed growth at the top. You can also harvest the entire plant all at once by cutting its stem near the bottom. Very cold weather will slow the growth of the greens and may cause the outer leaves to become somewhat tough. Use the tough outer leaves in things like soup, saving the tender inner ones for fresh eating. If frost does succeed in cutting it back a bit, don’t worry, as soon as things warm up you should see new little sprouts of leaves beginning again.
Kale brassica oleracea var. sabellica
Blue Scotch Curled Kale
An early kale on compact plants.
Tender, blue-green, curled leaves.
Cold hardy and productive.
Harvest 56 days.
Red Russian Kale
Gray green, purple veined, flat, non-curled
leaf, purple stem. Harvest 50 days.
A vigorous & cold hardy, magenta kale.
Mild & crisp edible leaves are finely curled.
Beautiful grown as an ornamental in the
landscape. Grows 18”-24”. Harvest 50 days.
Siberian Frill Kale
Vigorous and cold hardy. Intensely cut and
curled frills on blue-green leaves. Sweet flavor,
tender texture. Add raw to salads or delicious cooked.
Harvest 60-70 days.
Frost tolerant. Produces an abundance of
light green, frilly leaves. Use raw in
salads or cooked in soups. Harvest 60 days.
Dark slate-green feather-shaped leaves have a finely
blistered texture. AKA ‘Dinosaur or Black Kale”. Used
for braising or in salad mixes. Mild flavor. Harvest 35 days.
Kale culture –
Kale, or borecole, is a form of cabbage with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is in the same family that includes a wide array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. The name borecole may originate from the Dutch boerenkool, which means “farmer’s cabbage”. The different varieties can be classified by leaf type: curly leaved, plain leaved, rape kale, along with leaf and spear (a cross between curly and plain leaved Kale). Leaf colors range from light green to dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Along with cabbage, kale is one of the easiest and nutritious vegetables a home gardener can grow.
Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, lutein, and zeaxanthin. It is rich in calcium and contains potent anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that boiling may decrease these levels; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant losses.
Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century. During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. Kale was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing. In the Southern United States, kale is often served braised, either alone or mixed with other greens, such as collards, mustard, or turnip. When baked or dehydrated, Kale takes on a consistency similar to that of a potato chip, and is a much healthier alternative to regular potato chips. The chips can be seasoned with salt or other spices.
Kale can grow well into winter and is sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost. Many varieties of kale and cabbage are grown mainly for their ornamental leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior of the rosette. Ornamental kale is as edible as any other variety.