Although the edible kales are striking in the garden all winter, you may want to try your hand at this ornamental one as a display at the front of your flower beds or in containers for the porch or balcony. We list them in this section because they are grown just like their edible counterparts and they are subject to the same pests too. Purchased plants in pots will be root bound and will not get any larger as the fall progresses whereas your plants in the garden can get up to 45cm or more across. Start Osaka White Hybrid ornamental kale seeds in late June by sowing a short row of seeds spaced 6cm (2″) apart. When the plants are 10cm (4″) tall transplant them to stand about 45cm (18″) apart. Give them lime and very rich soil. Since these are grown for their looks, use Bt or flowing row cover to keep the caterpillars off. The inner leaves will begin to develop their pink, red, or white shades as soon as the temperature gets below 10 degrees Celsius.
How to Grow Kale
Kale contains higher levels of beta-carotene than any other green vegetable, and is also high in vitamin C and calcium. Collards are not far behind. All are easy to grow, vigorous, nutritious, resistant to cold, and easy to harvest and prepare. And the greens even get sweeter after frost. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Kale and Collards from Seeds Guide and grow healthy food! Perfect for juicing and long lasting green that stores well, delicious in crunchy salads.
Brassica oleracea var. acephala
We Recommend: Lacinato (KL425). This is a summertime favourite. While Lacinato is less cold hardy than many of its cousins, it forms tall, almost architectural rosettes of substantial leaves. Packed with flavour and nutrients, it’s a great variety for the beginner kale farmer.
For Urban Gardeners: Dwarf Green Curled (KL423) stays smaller and more compact, and grows perfectly well in containers or raised beds. It’s also cold hardy, so well suited to winter harvesting.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Winter hardy to Zone 6.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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