Growing kale

Posted: Monday 24 March 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Odd though it might seem, I’m becoming rather fond of kale. My first experience of this particular vegetable was walking through tall fields.

Odd though it might seem, I’m becoming rather fond of kale. My first experience of this particular vegetable was walking through tall fields of the stuff when I was a child, when its only purpose was to serve as pheasant cover or cattle food.

The idea of feeding it to a person was considered rather ridiculous. Mind you, broccoli was regarded with some suspicion in those days. And my father’s decision to grow kohl rabi was considered the height of eccentricity. Not so these days: kale is being hailed as a ‘superfood’ in newspapers and even has its own website, like One Direction or Alex Salmond.

I mention kale because, although it's a winter vegetable - you can go and pick it even in the depths of January - it needs quite a long growing time. Therefore, around now is the moment to start thinking about sowing the next crop.

I’m not the greatest expert in vegetable growing, but I’m quite pleased with my kale crop this year. My wife (who is to be obeyed in all things when it comes to growing vegetables) subcontracted that responsibility to me and I’m eager to repeat the experience. It helps that growing kale is very easy: sow the seeds in situ anytime between now and about the beginning of June. Then keep them watered, thin out the seedlings to about three inches apart (7.5cm to those of you who are metrically inclined), scare off the pigeons and wait until winter comes.

The picture is of a particularly good steak surrounded by what only be described as a cumulus of kale.

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Talkback: Growing kale
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fidgetbones 25/03/2014 at 09:22

This year I have sown seaweed kale,cavolo nero, and brukale. I sow one seed to a module in the polytunnel, then plant out 30cm or a foot apart. And then net against the pigeons.
We have been picking kale since last June,it is over now and finally running to flower. The brukale( a Brussels kale cross ) has now taken over,giving little kale rosettes where Brussels should be.

fidgetbones 25/03/2014 at 11:15

Brukale photo taken today.


 This years seedlings, just germinated.


fidgetbones 25/03/2014 at 11:16

The brukale appear to be mixed, some have a strong red colour, others are all green.

artjak 25/03/2014 at 11:18

I adore kale too; have grown the cavolo nero in the past - it just keeps on producing, wonderful stuff

fidgetbones 25/03/2014 at 13:08

I used to think kale was hard and chewy and as James A-S says, only fit for cattle. I take out any thick centre ribs off the leaves and steam. The brukale I leave as whole little flowers. Lovely and tender. From 1m square, we have had greens for nearly a year.