This hardy, cool season cabbage relative is grown for its leaves which can be steamed, stir fried, sauteed or added to soups. A member of the wild mustard family, it is delicious and exceedingly nutritious; it stores high levels of vitamin C in its leaves. It also contains the amino acid glutamine, which is a known anti-inflammatory.
(Note to East Bay gardeners: wait to plant Kale until September when the weather cools slightly.) Early fall is the ideal time to plant brassicas like kale. Kale needs time during warm weather to grow large and leafy before the onset of late fall frosts. The larger the plants become, the greater the size of edible stalks. Plants started in the spring will tend to be smaller, so fall is definitely the time to plant!
Sloat Garden Center carries kale transplants, but we also have kale seeds in different varieties. Sow seeds and then thin to 1 1/2 – 3 ft apart, or set out transplants at the same spacing. Well grown plants can reach 2-3 feet high. Harvest leaves by removing them from outside of clusters; or harvest the entire plant. Light frost sweetens the flavor. Luckily, kale plants suffer far fewer pest and disease problems than most other cabbage family crops.
Prepping the soil: Prepare planting beds with Sloat Loam Builder, 50/50 with native soil. Apply Agricultural Lime according to directions. Brassicas are lime lovers and do best with a neutral pH of 7. Brassicas are heavy feeders and since the goal is to get them as large as possible, use EB Stone Sure Start at planting time and then feed every 4 weeks with EB Stone Vegetable Food or Maxsea 16-16-16. It doesn’t hurt to give them a watering of fish emulsion now and then either. Water regularly and do not let the soil become overly dry.