Commit to Grow Day 16: Grow Kale

Commit to Grow Kale
17 Apr
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If you ever find yourself tempted to purchase kale from a supermarket, you really ought to try growing it. By its nature, kale is one of the easiest, hardiest, and most productive of all crops. It doesn’t need warm soil to germinate, it’s perfectly at home in containers, and it actually improves in cold weather. Heck, it thrives in cold weather, and can be harvested all winter long.

Grow Kale

Much has been made recently about kale’s nutritional quality as a Super Food. One cup of chopped raw kale contains just 33 calories, but delivers the following amounts of the recommended daily values:

Vitamin A – 206%
Vitamin C – 134%
Vitamin K – 684%
Thiamin – 5%
Riboflavin – 5%
Niacin – 3%
Vitamin B6 – 9%
Folate – 5%
Pantothenic Acid – 1%
Calcium – 9%
Iron – 6%
Magnesium – 6%
Phosphorus – 4%
Potassium – 9%
Sodium -1%
Zinc – 2%
Copper – 10%
Manganese – 26%

And you get 121g of Omega-3 fatty acids, as well.

It's easy to grow kale

Don’t have any room? Kale seeds can be used to grow sprouts and kale microgreens. Don’t have full sun? Kale can be grown in partial shade. However you choose to use it, just know that it is so easy to grow that buying it at the grocery store doesn’t make much sense. We’re inviting you to join us and Commit to Grow some kale this year, particularly if you’ve never tried it before. For summer kale, we recommend Lacinato Organic. For fall and winter kale, try Scarlet Kale.

Commit to Grow Kale

How to Grow Kale:

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Winter hardy to Zone 6.

Timing
Direct sow March to mid-July for summer to winter harvests. Optimal soil temperature: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.

Starting
Sow 3-4 seeds 5mm (¼”) deep in each spot you want a plant to grow.. Thin to the strongest plant. Space 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 75-90cm (30-36″) apart.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Add lime to the bed 3 weeks prior to sowing. Kale likes well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter. This plant prefers plentiful, consistent moisture. Drought is tolerable, but quality and flavor of leaves can suffer. Mix ¼ cup of complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant, or use 1 cup beneath every 3m (10′) of seed furrow.

Harvest
Kale and collards can both be grown as a cut and come again crop for salad mixes by direct-seeding and cutting when plants are 5-8cm (2-3″) tall. They will re-grow. Or pick leaves from the bottom up on mature plants as you need them. In spring, the surviving plants start to flower, so eat the delicious flowering steps and buds.

Diseases & Pests
Protect from cabbage moths and other insect pests with floating row cover. Prevent disease with a strict 4-year crop rotation, avoiding planting Brassicas in the same spot more than once every four years.

Companion Planting
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes. Plant collards near tomatoes, which repel the flea beetles that so often look for collard leaves to eat.

More on Companion Planting.