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Brassica oleracea var. acephala
Kale, a hardy leafy green, is not only a superfood but also a super producer. This cool-weather vegetable tolerates frost with ease and produces tender and succulent upright leaves well into fall. Plant kale in early spring in a traditional garden or a container to enjoy its leaves for five months or more. Kale thrives in full sun but grows well in part shade. From a balcony garden to a suburban raised bed, kale will grow nearly anywhere.
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garden plans for Kale
Kale Companion Plants
Plant kale alongside salad greens, onions, carrots, and other produce in the vegetable garden. You can also enjoy its texture-rich foliage in a perennial garden where it is as pretty as it is productive. When watered and harvested regularly, kale looks good from early spring until late fall. To prevent pest problems, plant kale where you haven't grown related crops—cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower, turnip, and rutabaga—in at least 4 years.
Kale grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Although kale leaves acquire their best flavor after autumn's first frost, this plant can also be grown in early spring. Start it from seed indoors about eight weeks before the last average frost date. Those seedlings—or transplants from the garden center—can be planted in the garden a couple of weeks after all danger of frost is past.
In cold climates, sow seeds outside as soon as the soil reaches 45 degrees F and the ground can be worked. Sow seeds 2 inches apart in rows 2 to 18 inches apart. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and keep soil evenly moist to ensure good germination. In warm climates, harvest a fall drop by planting seeds inside by early July, then transplanting the seedlings outside in the garden by mid-August. Water the plants well, as moist soil helps keep the leaves sweet and crisp instead of bitter.
Care for crops planted in late summer by mulching around plants to delay the ground from freezing around roots. Pull and discard plants as soon as they begin to flower; those leaves are tough and bitter.
Seed companies have recently introduced blends multiple varieties of colors, textures, and flavors in one multiseed pellet.