Plant Profile: Kale

Plant Profile: Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica)

Kale is “king” according to nutritionist and trendy chefs alike. This frilly cabbage cousin is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Kale is a versatile green and can be used as a spinach substitute in virtually any recipe.

   In the February 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine,our “EdibleHarvest” columnist Elizabeth Olson provides the following advice for growing kale.

   “Growing requirements for kale are very similar to those of cabbage. Gardeners who want to grow kale in spring should either purchase transplants in early to mid-spring or start seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected frost date.

   “Seeds for autumn-harvested kale should be started indoors in mid-summer and the plants should be installed in the garden by mid-September.” You can also direct-sow from seed in late August.

    “Kale grows best in full sun. The soil should drain well and be well-worked and amended with compost. Fertilize the plants with an organic vegetable fertilizer. A consistent moisture level in the soil is necessary for the highest-quality leaves. Keep the kitchen garden well-mulched and free of weeds.  

   “The plants should be covered with a floating row cover to protect them from flying insects. It is challenging to extract pests after they have gotten into the leaves.”
   Kale is also quite ornamental. Try inter-planting edible purple kale in your containers and beds with cool-season annuals like pansies and snapdragons. Harvest the largest kale leaves to eat whenever you like. You can also buy kale specifically bred for its looks, rather than for its taste, to grow for show in your winter garden.
   Try growing Kale in your garden today – you can grow that!
The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz. If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)
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