A Year of Kale

Kale in the Snow

Eight years ago, the world thought that kale was a trend, but now its safe to say that its a staple in any nutritious diet! If you long for kale year-round, look no further than your own backyard for the source.  In the past we've written about the benefits of multiple kale plantings, particularly, seeding a round of kale in the summer for fall harvests, and with the right variety selection and a bit of timing, you can plant a few plantings to achieve a good crop of kale 12 months out of the year.

Here's what you need to know:

1. Plant different varieties for the seasons. 

  • In March seed Dino Kale, it shines in the spring, but by the summer, this variety really starts to suffer from the heat. This planting will be harvested May-June.
  • In April & May seed Russian kales like Gulag Stars and Ragged Jack. They both do well in the spring, but our more abundant than the European kale varieties in the heat of summer. This planting will be harvested July-September.
  • In June and July, start your fall and winter crop. Seed cold hardy varieties like Rainbow Lacinato, Gulag Stars and Siberian Kale. This crop will be harvested October-March, and should be about 3 times larger than your spring and summer plantings to accommodate  your winter harvest needs.

2. Plant enough to let kale recover between harvests. To maximize the production of your kale, only harvest 2-3 large leaves from each plant, then allow them to grow large leaves again before the next harvest, typically 1-2 weeks depending on the season. If harvested this way, you will need about 5 kale plants to produce 1 bunch of kale every 1-2 weeks. If you want to eat 2 bunches of kale per week, plan to plant 10 plants, and so on.

3. Use row cover to help overwinter some plants. Hoops and row cover can extend your harvest window into late fall and early winter, but can also ensure that many plants will survive the winter and put on new grow in the early spring. Once snow and ice hot int he winter, it can be very difficult to harvest under row cover, so leave a few plants out to pick from.

rapini

4. Eat the kale rapini in the spring! Spring is consider the hunger gap, when temperatures warm but the ground isn't yet workable for new plantings. Overwintered kale can close this gap! If you've ever overwintered kale before, you might have seen it flower in late spring. Before it flowers, it produces lots of leaves and tender shoots that you can use as rapini. (You'll see how closely related kale is to broccoli too!) Harvest the tender stems and leaves with the rapini, chop and saute with garlic and olive oil.

5 thoughts on “A Year of Kale”

  • Marion Stein
    Marion Stein 12/29/2015 at 9:58 am

    I'm excited to plant some kale this coming year. I'm away right now but will be returning home on Jan.7th. I'll send in my order then.
    Marion

    Reply
  • Miriam

    Would love to grow kale, but, I live in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. and have heard it doesn't do well here! It is Dec. 29 and 85 degrees. Any suggestions?????

    Reply
    • Erin

      Hi Miriam! Yes, Ft. Lauderdale is much warmer than the Hudson Valley! However, I do know that if there was anytime to grow kale, it would be now, during the "winter" when temps are the mildest. I recommend trying both a Russian variety, they do better in the heat, and a the Dino Kale, which has a better shelf life. Let us know how it works out!

      Reply
  • Kathy

    Hello,

    I saw that HVSL is still on the Current and was hoping to place an order to help with getting my next grow cycle started. I need 3 packs of Vivid bok choy, 4 packs of spotted trout, 3 packs of dino kale.

    Thanks so much,


    Kathy

    Reply
    • Erin Enouen
      Erin Enouen 01/21/2016 at 7:04 am

      Hi Kathy,
      We are unable to accepts currents at this time, however you can order directly through our website. Please email us at mail@seedlibrary.org if you have any additional questions. Thanks!

      Reply

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