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Plant Care

How to Grow Kale

Growing kale offers culinary delights and ornamental beauty, making it a garden essential. Select from a range of colourful varieties, some with handsome foliage that's highly ornamental too. This guide will help you grow kale, bringing to your garden its leafy presence and superfood qualities to your plate.

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Grow Kale From Seed

Sow kale seeds twice a year: in April for early winter harvest and in June for a crop lasting until the following spring. Plant two seeds in 10cm pots filled with multipurpose compost and transplant the seedlings once they reach about 25cm, mindful that brassicas are sensitive to root disturbance. If both seeds sprout, thin them to one per pot to ensure ample growing space. Sowing brassicas in June may seem odd, but it secures a supply of hearty greens for winter. Whether in modules or directly sown indoors or out, the seeds are ready for transplanting in 6-8 weeks, promising fresh produce during the colder months.

Avoid root disturbance when repotting.

What Kale Needs

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Watering: Kale needs little water and is pest-resistant; water new seedlings, then only during droughts. Protection: Pigeons love brassicas; protect young kale with netting if they're around. Position: Kale prefers rich, well-drained, firm soil.

Growing Kale Across the Season

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Start kale indoors Feb-Mar, plant out from Apr, and keep picking last year's crop.

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Harvest young kale in May/June, sow through summer, and protect against cabbage caterpillars.

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Harvest kale leaves regularly, a few from each plant.

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Keep picking kale – frost sweetens the leaves even more.

Kale S.O.S.

Kale is mostly pest-resistant but birds can be an issue; scare them off and net your plants. Yellowing leaves signal drought, overwatering, or root harm. After adjusting water, check for clubroot or root fly by examining a sick plant's roots.

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Watch out for hungry birds.

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