Growing Kale

Growing kale, like other garden greens, takes minimal time to prepare the soil for new plant growth. Rich soil and full sun are the two basic ingredients for growing kale that produce healthy and flavorful vegetables.

Characteristics
Collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale all belong to the same vegetable group. Collards grow on long stalks that produce large flat green leaf. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts each have compact layered leaves that peel away from a center core.

Kale, however, has significantly smaller stalks and stems and a fringed leaf. As the plant matures, young leaves are harvested for cooking, leaving the top of the plant intact to produce more leaves or the whole plant can be harvested at one time.

Kale is an excellent source for supplying multiple vitamins and minerals to meals. It is prepared by slowing boiling the leaves with added seasonings or chopped and used fresh in salads.

Growing
Kale needs full sun but grows best with cool temperatures; hot weather can give the leaves a bitter taste. The plants require a well-drained location and composted soil to produce the best results and eliminate root rot once the seedlings begin to mature.

Place seeds approximately one-half inch deep and one inch apart in a single row lightly cover with soil then water. Once the seeds germinate and sprout, thin the plants allowing approximately twelve inches between plants.

Transplant seeds started indoors in containers during the winter to an outdoor garden once the ground has thawed or warmed. Germination takes approximately six to eight weeks. Seeds planted in late summer will produce kale throughout the fall and into the winter months.

Plant Care
Throughout spring or fall growing seasons, kale plants benefit from a good dose of fertilizer. In the cooler months, a light frost tends to add a sweeter flavor of the leaves.

Kale plants are susceptible to garden variety pests as well as mildew and fungal disease. Use a quality fungicide and pesticide to rid the plants of problems, provide plenty of air circulation between the plants by removing weeds and not allowing over crowding of the plants. 

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