- Kale can be planted directly into the soil or grown in containers, provided it has sufficient drainage.
- Seeds can be sown directly into the ground in early spring for a summer harvest, or late summer for a winter harvest.
- It prefers full sun in spring and autumn but can benefit from light shade during hot weather and can handle some frost when mature.
- In autumn: plant 6-8 weeks before first expected frost.
- It prefers well-drained, fertile soil, high in organic matter, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
- Enrich the soil with compost and fertiliser before planting out seedlings. Grown for its leaves, the high nitrogen content provided by organic matter is crucial.
- Companions: beets, celery, spinach and chard.
- Pick off unhealthy-looking leaves and keep plants well-fed with compost and water.
- Protect your kale with a thick layer of mulch, especially if you want to continue harvesting throughout winter. Mulch with finely straw, pine needles or wood chips.
- Pick leaves one by one, starting from the lowest, outermost leaves.
- To encourage continuous growth cycles, remove the outer leaves as they mature to allow new growth at the centre of the plant.
- For a lighter taste, harvest younger leaves, and for a more pungent flavour, harvest mature leaves.
- Green cabbageworms, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, and aphids often gather within the folds of leaves.
- To help reduce disease, rotate kale with other crops.
- Do not plant kale and other Brassica crops in the same location more than once every three years.
- Cover seedlings with row cover in late-summer and remove again in autumn when pest populations decrease.
- Use insecticidal soap to treat small problems.
Kale in the kitchen
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Kales'
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Curly-Leaf'
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Bumpy-Leaf Kale'
Kale 'Chou Moullier'
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Chou Moullier'
Kale 'Dwarf Siberian'
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Dwarf Siberian'