Planting, Growing, And Harvesting Kale
Kale is a leafy green, this cold weather crop which belongs to the cabbage family is a super veggie that is enjoyed by many worldwide. Kale is loaded with vitamin A, C, K, calcium, iron, minerals, and fiber.
But how is kale planted, grown, and harvested? In this article, we will be looking at how to successfully grow this hardy, cool-season green from your home garden.
Planting kale directly into the ground
1. kale can be planted from early spring to early summer.
2. Location- When planting kale install in an area that gets 6-5 hours of sunlight, kale also grows well in partial shade.
4. Planting kale-whether planting from seeds or transplanting, kale should be planted in rows and spaced about 8-12 inches apart to allow for proper growth and air circulation.
Seeds should be planted about 1/4 to 1/2. A word of note if planting seeds deeper than recommended may cause seeds not to germinate and if seeds germinate plants will suffocate.
5. Watering methods-when it comes to watering your kale, water moderately. Do not overwater which can contribute to root rot.
6. Fertilizing methods-Using a balanced fertilizer of 10-10-10 will work wonders for your kale. When fertilizing follow the label because the label is the law.
Container grown kale
Container grown kale is a great way to start a container garden. What I love about container gardening is the ability to move the containers around to meet the plant’s requirements and for aesthetic reasons.
1. Choose a container anywhere from 5-7 gallon so that your kale can grow comfortably.
2. The container can be placed in a sunny location or an area that gets partial sun.
3. The soil should be well-drained soil, garden soil or compost is ideal.
4. When planting by seeds or transplanting plants follow methods according to step 4 when planting kale directly into the ground.
5. Water your kale moderately, do not overwater because overwatering contributes to root rot.
6. Using a water-soluble base or quick-release fertilizer of 8-4-4 is ideal for your kale. When using fertilizers follow the manufactures label because the label is the law.
Insect pest of kale
The journey of kale from your garden to the kitchen has its share of insects pest that seeks to reap a harvest before you do. But the good news is these insect pests can be stopped in their tracks by counter-attacking with the use of insecticides that have proven to be beneficial.
Insects pest to keep an eye out for are
- Flea beetles
- Slugs and Snails
Whiteflies-Whiteflies are tiny flying insects that are white. To identify whiteflies gently tap or shake your plant, what will happen is if tiny white insects dislodge and then quickly reattach again to your kale veggie you have a whitefly issue.
Control these garden pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap spray. When spraying ensure to get total coverage of plant leaves on both the top and underside. Always follow directions on the label because the label is the law.
Aphids-Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects that love to feed on the tender or new growth of plant leaves. These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts and will cause injury to your kale.
Aphids can be controlled by using a strong spray of water from your garden hose with an attachment that will knock them off and kill them, but because your kale is tender this strong stream of water may damage them.
The use of neem oil, natural predators like ladybugs, or the use of soap base products will bring these garden pests under control. When using chemicals follow as directed because the label is the law.
Another insect that will seek to make a meal out of your kale is the flea beetle. The sign of the presence of flea beetles is tiny holes in the leaves of your kale veggie. These holes are made from these beetles feeding on your plant.
Controlling flea beetles
The use of insecticides such as diatomaceous earth and neem oil are 2 products that can give good results. Keeping your garden free of debris build-up as well as weeds is also a great way to control this insect pest.
Caterpillars cause injury by eating parts of the plant like the flea beetles. On inspecting your plants you will discover them feeding.
Caterpillars can be controlled by handpicking and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water or with the use of Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails also pose another threat to kale. These garden pests feed by eating parts of the plant.
Controlling slugs and snails
Slugs and snails can be controlled by handpicking or with the use of bait. Sprinkle the area around your plants with diatomaceous earth or slug and snail bait.
Diseases of kale
Keeping your kale disease-free or at least keeping the disease under control means when watering ensure that the soil and not the plant comes in contact with the water.
Plants that are watered too late in the evening will not dry out in time by night fall the moisture that’s still present along with the warm temperature makes the perfect condition for the disease to develop.
When watering be very careful not to splash the soil on your kale. Copper fungicides may also offer some help. The earlier you catch the disease, the more effective the application of the copper fungicide.
Sterilizing your tools is also an effective way of disease prevention. Tools can be cleaned by adding two tablespoons of bleach to a 32oz spray bottle filled with water, shake this solution well and apply to your garden tools. Allow this solution to sit for a few seconds and wipe with a clean cloth. Reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer will go a long way in controlling the diseases of kale.
When to harvest kale?
Now it’s on to the fun part and that is harvesting your kyle, you have planted, watered, fertilized, and took care of those pest and disease issues and now it is time to reap a harvest of your labor.
What are the signs to let you know that it is time to harvest your kale?
When harvesting kale from seeds to maturity it will take anywhere from 70-80 days. Kale that is transplanted until the time of maturity will be ready to harvest within 50-60 days.
Another sign to show that kayle is ready to harvest is when they are the size of your hand. The older leaves of kyle should be harvested first. These leaves are found at the bottom of your kale veggie while the younger or newer growth is found at the top.
Kale can be harvested with the use of sharp scissors. Be very careful not to cut your hand. Cut kale from the base leaving 2 inches for kale to regrow.
How to store kale?
Now that you have harvested your kyle the goal is to keep them as fresh as possible. But how can kale keep its freshness after being harvest? Here are a few suggestions that have proven to be effective.
1. After kale has been picked wash well under running water, dry kale thoroughly with paper napkins then wrap your kale in clean dry paper napkins, place napkins in a ziplock bag. Remove air from ziplock bag and place bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
2. Follow as in step one with the washing and drying of kale. Using a Tupperware container place your kale in the container, get about two or three strips of paper towel, and wet them entirely.
Squeeze out excess water because the goal is to have the paper towels damp and not dripping with water. Place the paper towel on and around your kale, next return the lid to the container ensuring that there is no air.
Place the container in the coldest part of your fridge. Every 2-3 days change the paper towels in the container so that your kale retains its freshness.
The final word
Growing kale is that simple, from the garden to your kitchen to include in soups, stews, steam foods, saute, salads, and so on. This is a great way to get your greens in that is filled with so many benefits
So consider making these super veggies a part of your garden whether growing them directly from the ground or container gardening. So get in on what many home gardens are growing and enjoying.