Multiple leaves per plant
Easy-to-grow kale, with its superfood qualities, is a must-have in your home grown vegetable collection.
There are many varieties to choose from, some with handsome foliage that’s highly ornamental too, whether you’re growing it in veg patches, borders or containers.
Follow the advice in this handy guide to grow your own kale.
Sowing kale seeds
Seeds can be sown in modules, indoors, or outdoors in warmer weather and transplanted 6-8 weeks later.
Looking after kale plants
Seedlings should be planted firmly into moist but well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade.
Plants will benefit from adding well-composted manure to the soil before planting. And a good mulch is also helpful to keep plants moist and weed free. Remove any flower shoots to encourage the production of plenty of healthy leaves.
Watch Monty’s video on planting out kale seedlings.
Kale can be grown as a cut-and-come-again crop. Young tender leaves can be harvested for salads. If left to mature for winter greens, plants can be left in the ground through the winter and picked as required for soups and stews.
Kale leaves are best used when freshly picked. However, they can be blanched and then frozen to store for later use.
Preparation and uses of kale
Delicious steamed or fried, kale leaves are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Young kale leaves can be eaten in salads and stir fries and also make a great addition to stews and soups.
Here are some kale recipe suggestions from our friends at Olive Magazine.
Kale: problem solving
Another good reason for growing kale is that it’s a relatively pest-free member of the Brassica family. The biggest problem comes from greedy birds, so use bird scarers and net your crops.
If left to flower, kale plants can be a vital source of nectar and pollen for early bees.
Kale varieties to try
- ‘Cavolo Nero’ – a handsome Italian kale, with long, plume-like leaves that are very ornamental in winter, particularly when dusted with frost
- ‘Black Tuscany’ or ‘Nero di Toscana’ – has green, crinkled, strap-like leaves. It is good for winter or spring greens, and can be grown as an ornamental plant
- ‘Ragged Jack’ or ‘Russian Red’ – an heirloom variety, with frilly, red-tinged leaves and purple-red stems; it will easily self-seed
- ‘Scarlet Curled’ – an ornamental, dwarf, curled variety with violet-green leaves that turn violet-red after frost
- ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ – a highly ornamental, dwarf variety with curly, dark green leaves, as its name suggests