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|Seed Depth||Seed Spacing||Soil Temp for Germ.||Days to Germ.||Thin Plants To||Approximately 300 seeds per gram.|
Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group: Fast becoming known as the 'Queen of Greens', kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on earth. Kale is a true super food rich in carontenoids and flavonids, which are two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals and are reported to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. One cup of kale has just 36 calories, zero grams of fat, a whopping 684% of RDA of K, 206% of A, and 134% of C vitamins.
CULTURE: Kale is a short-season crop that performs best in cool weather and can tolerate frost when established. SPRING CULTURE: Start indoors or in the greenhouse about the first of February for transplanting in mid-March. Sow the seed in a sterile seedling mix in individual pots. Keep the seedlings moist, and provide adequate nutrition. Harden off seedlings in a cold frame prior to transplanting. Set the seedlings in rows 18-36 inches apart. Side-dress with 1/2 cup blood meal or composted chicken manure. Young seedlings may be covered with a cloche or row cover such as Gro-Therm or Reemay. Be watchful for early hot spells, because covers can create too much heat if left unchecked.
Direct seed in May, or after the danger of hard frost. Sow seeds in rows 18-36 inches apart. Cover the seed with fine vermiculite or sifted compost for best germination. Keep moist to prevent soil crusting. Thin after plants produce their third true leaf, maintaining the strongest plants. These early thinnings are wonderful for fresh salad greens. Now apply 1/4 to 1/2 cup of our complete fertilizer, or equivalent, into the soil around each young plant to provide the nutrition necessary for optimum production.
FALL & WINTER CULTURE: Sow seed until early July. Consult our winter catalog or our website for complete cultural information.
INSECTS: See Brassica Insect Information below.
DISEASES: Generally not a problem.
HARVEST: The outer leaves can be picked when they are about 8-10 inches long. Avoid picking the inner leaves to prevent damaging the growing point. Cool quickly and store at 32°F and 100% humidity. A light frost will bring out the sweetness.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 75%. Days to maturity are calculated from date of direct seeding; subtract 15 days if transplanting. Usual seed life: 3 years.
Brassica Insect Information
Aphids: Control aphids with a hard spray of water, Hot Pepper Wax, Insect Killing Soap, or Pyrethrin. Also, select varieties that mature later in the season when aphid populations decline.
Cabbage worms, loopers, and root maggots: The first sign of cabbage worms will be white diamond-back moths fluttering near the plants. They lay their yellowish-colored eggs on the undersides of leaves, which hatch into caterpillars that can cause severe root and head damage. To control light infestations, spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). For heavy infestations, bait cabbage worms by mixing wheat bran into a BT solution. Add 1 tablespoon of molasses. Broadcast the bran mixture around the base of plants. Reapply as necessary. Using Reemay or Grow Guard 20, can also provide control.
Flea beetles: Flea beetles chew tiny pinholes in leaves. Early control is essential to minimize the damage. Spray young plants with Pyrethrin every 2 days. Using floating row covers such as Summer Insect Barrier can also provide control.
Symphylans: In some areas of the US, symphylans (also known as garden centipede) can severely retard the plant growth of cole crops. Only 1/4 inch long, white, and very active, they eat the root hairs of developing plants. Contact your local county extension agent if you suspect you have a problem.