Growing Kale



Brassica oleracea sabellica

Kale or borecole is a class of plants that belongs to the Cabbage family, which form neither heads as the common cabbage, nor eatable flowers like the broccoli and cauliflower. Some varieties can reach a height of six or seven feet; and some are compact and symmetrical and of good quality for eating. Many however are coarse, have undesirable coloring, and are unappealing and indigestible. Most Kale is either annuals or biennials, and is raised from seeds, which, in size, form, and color, resemble those of the cabbage.

Sowing. — Seeds are sown at the same time as the seeds of the cabbage or cauliflower, and in the same manner. Early plants may be started in a hot-bed, or the seeds may be sown in the open ground in April or May or a soil temperature of 60-65ºF (16-18º) C. Soil should be maintained at a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Kale grows best in full sun, but it is one of the few vegetables that will tolerate partial shade. Sow Kale seeds ½” deep, 1” apart in rows 18-30” apart. Thin the Kale seedlings to 8-12” apart.


When transplanting, plant Kale as you would young cabbages; setting apart according to the size or habit of the variety. The leaves will grow bigger in ample space than if plants are crowded together, but smaller leaves tend to be the tenderest.


Kale prefers the same amount of water each week, about 1 to 1.5 inches. You can measure the amount of water with a rain gauge on a stake in the garden. Mulch the Kale plants with compost, ground up leaves, grass clippings, weed-free hay or straw to keep the soil cool and moist and to keep down weeds.


Though they are extremely hardy, Kale will endure quite low temperatures and are generally harvested in autumn. If transplanted in the following spring, they will furnish an abundance of tender sprouts which, when cooked, are superior in flavor and delicacy to the cabbage. Like collards, kale leaves are sweetest in the fall, after they’ve been hit by a light frost.



Uses.—The tender, upper part alone is eaten. Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost. Kale can be boiled and eaten or is often combined with beef, sausage, potatoes and mutton. It is also popular in stews and soups.


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