Fruit, Vegetable & Herb
Growing Edible, Ornamental Kale
It looks great in fall gardens and tastes good, too
1. Plant Your Kale
Kale is a hardy, cool-season green and is part of the cabbage family. It grows best in the spring and fall and can tolerate fall frosts. So the best time to plant is about 1 month before your last frost date in spring and 6 weeks before your first frost date in fall. Plant in well-drained soil, amended with compost or garden soil, such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Vegetables & Herbs. For the shortest wait for harvest, plant young kale plants from Bonnie Plants®, which are well on their way to maturity. Plant them 12 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. If you choose to plant seeds instead, sow kale seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Gradually thin the seedlings to about a foot apart.
2. Feed and Water Your Kale
When your kale seedlings are 4 inches tall, begin feeding them with a water-soluble plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. Water frequently enough to keep the soil consistently moist but not soaking wet.
3. Conserve Moisture with Mulch
Add a 3-inch layer of mulch, such as Scotts® Nature Scapes® Advanced Color Enhanced Mulch, around the plants to help retain moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weed growth. If you mulch the soil heavily after the first hard freeze, your kale may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter.
4. Harvest Your Kale
Kale leaves are ready to pick 55 to 75 days from seeding, or when the leaves are about the size of your hand. The central rosette is the tastiest part of the plant, but let it grow if you want the plant to produce more leaves. The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and chopped up to use in salads. You can store kale as you would any other leafy green; put the kale in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.