Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener
Spring has officially arrived! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through this post, you’ll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!
It’s no mystery why kale has become one of the most popular health foods in the world today. With more nutritional value than spinach, kale is an excellent source of vitamin A! It also has twice the vitamin C as orange juice and contains more calcium than milk. Kale and collard greens are both varieties of non-heading cabbage. Wether eaten fresh in salads, dried, blended into smoothies, or cooked; these leafing cabbages are the perfect addition to any dish for an added boost of energy. Growing them at home is straight forward and simple with these easy tips!
Let’s get started.
Kale requires rich, well drained soil. Pure compost is the perfect growing medium for any garden. Kale loves the organic matter that makes up compost because it is rich in nitrogen and improves leaf development.
Collards and kale require nitrogen rich fertilizer like blood meal. Nitrogen is vital for leaf growth to begin. Brassicas are heavy feeders because of the intensity of their leaf development, so it’s important to add a second serving of nitrogen rich fertilizer 6-8 weeks after transplanting, especially if a lot of rain has fallen. We apply Trifecta+ (which contains blood meal) to the soil once before planting, and then as a side dressing mid-season to boost the nutrients surrounding the plant.
Do a soil test to make sure the ph is between 6.5-7.0.
These leafy greens should get no less than 4-5 hours of sunlight per day. Extra amounts of sun will only add flavor to these, so in the summer they will enjoy up to 10 hours of sun!
Water regularly. 1-1.5 inches of water per week for maximum production. Kale and collards prefer damp, not soggy, soil. Mulch after plants are established to help maintain soil moisture.
Space between 8 and 10 inches apart. High intensity spacing prevents weeds.
Kale and collards are extremely cold-hardy vegetables, and they flourish in full sun and hot weather as well. Exposure to frost will improve the flavor of kale significantly. Exposure to full sun will do the same! You really cannot go wrong with them. All varieties will thrive in temperatures anywhere between 40°-100°F. Mulching, mentioned above, also helps maintain a steady temperature around the plants. When you expect frost, pull earth up around the stem and add a thick layer of mulch.
Time to harvest: baby kale, 25 days; mature, 60-100 days. Harvest by picking individual leaves or cutting the entire plant. Firm, crisp, and bright green leaves signal the peak harvest times. New leaves are the most tender and add zest to salads. Cook larger leaves or add them to soups.