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Published on March 7th 2019
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You definitely want to add kale to your growing list this autumn. Kale is renowned for being a powerhouse of nutrients packed with calcium, iron, fibre and vitamins A, C and K. This hardy, cool-season green is easy to grow and only a few plants are needed to produce a bountiful weekly harvest.
Follow these growing tips to get you well on your way to your first kale harvest.

Growing Tips

Sowing & Planting
  • Kale can be planted directly into the soil or grown in containers, provided it has sufficient drainage.
  • Seeds can be sown directly into the ground in early spring for a summer harvest, or late summer for a winter harvest.
  • It prefers full sun in spring and autumn but can benefit from light shade during hot weather and can handle some frost when mature.
  • In autumn: plant 6-8 weeks before first expected frost.
  • It prefers well-drained, fertile soil, high in organic matter, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
  • Enrich the soil with compost and fertiliser before planting out seedlings. Grown for its leaves, the high nitrogen content provided by organic matter is crucial.
  • Companions: beets, celery, spinach and chard.
Did you know? Kale is best grown in cooler temperatures as the leaves are sweeter and nuttier to taste when they mature in cooler conditions.
  • Pick off unhealthy-looking leaves and keep plants well-fed with compost and water.
  • Protect your kale with a thick layer of mulch, especially if you want to continue harvesting throughout winter. Mulch with finely straw, pine needles or wood chips.
  • Pick leaves one by one, starting from the lowest, outermost leaves.
  • To encourage continuous growth cycles, remove the outer leaves as they mature to allow new growth at the centre of the plant.
  • For a lighter taste, harvest younger leaves, and for a more pungent flavour, harvest mature leaves.
  • Green cabbageworms, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, and aphids often gather within the folds of leaves.
A close up image of a large white butterfly cateroillar Pieris brassicae on a broccoli floret

Cabbage White

Pieris brassicae

  • To help reduce disease, rotate kale with other crops.
  • Do not plant kale and other Brassica crops in the same location more than once every three years.
  • Cover seedlings with row cover in late-summer and remove again in autumn when pest populations decrease.
  • Use insecticidal soap to treat small problems.

Kale in the kitchen

Kale can be prepared in numerous ways - steamed, cooked, juiced, crisped, braised, roasted, sauteed, and added to soups and salads. Young leaves are often harvested to enjoy raw in salads, and mature leaves are more flavourful and used for cooking.
Tip: Get your vitamin fix with this kale juice recipe for an immune boost before winter - you can use your first kale harvest to give it a try!
Not only is kale nutritious and easy to grow, but ornamental varieties will also add beautiful colour and texture to the winter garden.
Here are some of our favourite varieties:

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