It might surprise you but this was my first season to grow kale and I fell in love with this plant. You want to know what inspired this decision? Well, it’s pretty simple I got hooked on kale salad over the winter and decided it was time to grow my own.
Kale is a green leafy plant; more of a winter vegetable that will flourish through spring and fall. Continue growing with little effort through winter by covering during freezing temperatures making it perfect for a fall garden.
I learned so much about this plant and Robert kind of thought it was funny because he mentioned it grows wild. He’s right and it was also an attractive staple during the depression era. Kale is one of those greens you can eat raw or cooked and both taste great if you like greens.
Where to Plant Kale
I planted in the Quail sanctuary late spring in new raised beds; this year I decided to start with easy crops because I wanted to learn about this black soil as much as possible.
My first impression, kale seemed pretty slow to germinate. Once it surfaced it appeared to stay as a seedling longer than expected. This was mainly because the lettuce was overshadowing and there just wasn’t enough sunlight.
The lesson here, planting by direct seed, maturity begins around 55 – 75 day and if transplanted 30 -40 days.
This plant loves sunlight and once we cleared away more trees it took off. Kale grows extremely well when soil is kept moist and why adding mulch is very helpful. Mulch will decrease the number of times to water each week.
Direct Seed Planting Tips
- Plant Kale from early spring to early summer.
- Make sure soil is well fertilized and if planting a second season make sure to re fertilize prior to planting.
- Plant seeds ½ inch deep into well-drained, light soil.
- After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so they’re spaced 8 to 12 inches apart.
SIDE NOTE: Kale isn’t the best plant for a quail garden because they love it and there will be a competition to who enjoys the harvest first.
How to Harvest
Harvest when leaves are young for salad and let mature for cooked. I also like to take those larger leaves and cut them in small pieces to mix with stir fry or saute with herbs. I did a lot of experimenting and Robert was a good sport because he can’t stand kale by itself.
However, he agreed in small doses it was fine. This, made me smile!
To remove from the plant base, clip the stems from the outside working inward, very similar to harvesting lettuce. This method is known as cut and come again which means when cutting from the exterior it encourages the inner plant to sprout new shoots.
I normally harvest the same day I’m going to use and the process is quick, much faster than running to the grocery store.
Kale is loaded with nutrients to support healthy skin, hair, and bones. Which is fantastic; it’s also a great source of fiber to enhance digestion and contributes to good cardiovascular health.
There’s actually more nutrition in kale than spinach which is pretty awesome because it does taste better.
Here’s a list of additional factors you may find interesting.
- Good Source of Vitamin C and iron.
- Contains Potassium which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Contain antioxidants known as alpha-lipoic acid.
- Vitamin K -good for bones.
- Vitamin A – good for your hair.
- Vitamin B – great to balance moods
I think we can agree that kale would be a great addition to any diet. But with any food, consume in small portions and enjoy as side servings. I’ve been mixing kale with additional green in salads, the added flavor and texture is tasty.
When temperatures spike, it may wilt like the photo above. Allow the plant to regroup in the evening by giving it a little water to recover.
I’m planting kale again because having ready to go veggies we can enjoy in minutes with any meal is a fantastic option. Don’t you agree growing healthy tasty food makes sense?
If I learned anything from my grandmother it’s this, “The best food comes from your own garden or land.”