Kale is an excellent green vegetable for cold-weather cooking. It’s best known as an attractive garnish, but the mild-flavor greens are also a highly nutritious addition to salads, stir-fries, steamed vegetable dishes, soups, and stews. Unlike so many other greens, they keep much of their shape even when cooked, adding texture to any dish.
Leaves may be blue-green, green, or burgundy in color, and ruffled, curly, deeply cut, or flat in form. Color and flavor improve with cool weather; plants can survive to 0 degrees F with protection.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
White, Red, Purple, Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
For a spring crop, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected spring frost; move hardened off seedlings to the garden 2 weeks before the last frost. Or sow seeds directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Start seeds for a fall crop 8 weeks before the first expected fall frost. In mild winter areas, sow seeds in late fall for a winter and early spring harvest.
Sow seeds ¼- ½ inch deep, 4 inches apart in the row. When plants are a couple of inches tall, thin to a 12-18 inch spacing.
Mulch the soil around your kale plants and be sure to keep it consistently moist. While kale is less troubled by insects and disease than other members of the cabbage family, floating row covers will help to exclude pests such as cabbage loopers, cabbageworms and flea beetles. Contact your local county Extension office for other control methods.
Pick baby greens 20-30 days after seeding. Harvest mature leaves 30-40 days later. To keep a plant producing, harvest the outer leaves and allow the center to continue to grow. The tender central leaves are best for salads. Cook the larger, older leaves. Leaves will have their best flavor when growing conditions are cool and frosty.
Beet, celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, onion, potato, spinach. Chamomile and garlic improve growth and flavor.