What is kale?
Kale has been grown for ages and it’s easy to cultivate the plant.
I personally grow my kale for the family and for the chickens, that’s why I already know how to grow kale through every season.
Kale or Brassica oleracea convar.Acephala var.laciniata is a member of the brassica family and so it has Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower as cousins.
The plant has a normal to a very thick stem with leafs growing out of it. If you look at a kale, it’s just like a small palm tree with curly leafs.
As I mentioned above, the plant can have a normal stem or a very thick stem. The difference in the stem is due to the fact that we grow two kinds of kale. The industrial kind which is a dwarf-variety with a normal stem and the shrub kale which is quite big and has a really thick stem.
In the industry, the most grown variety is the dwarf variety. This one is easy to cut with machines. The shrub variety should be cut manually and is therefore far too labor-intensive.
The shrub variety is mostly grown in hobby gardens.
Where to grow kale?
Although brassica does like the sun, it’s still possible to grow kale in a space with half-shadow in summer. This could result in a smaller harvest. Don’t grow it in half shadow in winter time as this will greatly reduce the harvest.
how to grow kale in a row
It’s best to use a lot of space to plant the kale plants. I personally used a space of 65 cm (a bit more than 2 feet) in between the rows and 50 cm (20 inches) between the plants in the row. I did say that I used a certain distance in the row because I’m going towards square foot gardening and It’s not difficult to know how to grow kale in square foot gardening.
how to grow kale in square foot gardening
When you want to grow kale in a square foot gardening method, you can plant one kale plant per square foot.
when to grow kale?
You can start about 12 weeks before the first frost date. Starting the seedlings in the greenhouse or outside is still possible.
Taking care of your kale
Kale loves a nutrient-rich fluffy soil. It will survive in almost any soil if the ph-value is between 6.5 and 7.5. The soil should be well-draining if the winter has a lot of rainfall.
Kale is just like other brassica’s, a very greedy plant. Even as a second cultivation, it’s good to make sure there’s enough nutrition in the field. Leveling up with compost before planting is a good start
The harvest of kale consists of the leafs growing out of the stem. So it’s very much possible to harvest a couple of leafs from each plant at a time and do this during a longer period in the season.
As I personally sow kale for my family and for the chickens I periodically harvest leaves through the year and until the plant bolts or dies because of frost. (Although we almost never have low enough temperatures to kill the plants.)
I harvest leaves that are about the size of my hand and always give the plant time to regenerate. I periodically use nettle tea and comfrey tea to keep the plants happy.
the big cabbage butterfly
The big cabbage butterfly or Pieris brassicae can devastate the plants while in caterpillar stadium.
The caterpillars can eat through the leaves until there’s only a stem left. Using insect-screen can avoid a lot of trouble. In case it’s too late and the plants are infested with caterpillars, it’s possible to use spinosad. Just make sure you read the manual before using because it does have an impact on the soil and other insects. It’s best used in the evening when there are no bees around anymore.
I personally have enough kale plants to remove the caterpillars by hand. Read this article to see what I do.
The small cabbage butterfly
The small cabbage butterfly or Pieris rapae also has a devastating effect on brassica’s, the caterpillar can, just like the caterpillar of his bigger cousin, kill the plants when not timely treated. Insect screen is the way to go. If you’re too late, spinosad can be used.
the mealy cabbage aphid
The mealy cabbage aphid or Brevicoryne brassicae can give the plant a growth shock as it sucks necessary moisture and nutrients out of the plants. The aphids can also bring different diseases onto the plants by spreading it through their saliva.
One fungus that is quite common is downy mildew or Peronospora parasitica. Bordeaux mixture can prevent the disease from growing but once the fungus is developing, only the removal of the infested plants will help contain the disease. Also, be careful when using Bordeaux mix because this is borderline organic.
I haven’t got all the diseases and pests in this article yet, but if I come across pictures or get the diseases on my plants, I will amend this article.
So this is it for this blog post, I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share with friends and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.