- How To Grow Kale (Italian)
- 10 Tips for Growing Cannabis
- How to grow marijuana outdoors: a beginner’s guide
- Step 1: Consider the climate
- Step 2: Pick a space for your garden
- Step 3: Decide on genetics
- Step 4: Acquire some soil
- Step 5: Get some fertilizer
- Step 6: Choose your containers
- Step 7: Give your plants water
- Step 8: Protect your cannabis plants
- 5 Tips For Growing Cannabis Indoors
- 1. Location
- 2. Environmental Elements
- 3. Soil & Seeds
- 4. Timing Is Everything
- 5. TLC
- How to grow kale
- Kale varieties to try
- Quick Care Guide
- Recommended Kale Varieties
- Caring For Kale Plants
- Harvesting and Storing Kale
- Troubleshooting Kale Problems
- Kale – Key Growing Information
- Will Kale Grow In Containers: Tips On Growing Kale In Pots
- Will Kale Grow in Containers?
- How to Grow Kale in Containers
- Care for Container Grown Kale
- Fertilizing and Watering Kale
- HOW TO GROWKALE
- QUICK CALENDAR FOR GROWING CURLY KALE
- WHERE TO GROW KALE
- WHEN AND HOW TO SOW KALE SEED
- TRANSPLANTING CURLY KALE
- CARING FOR CURLY KALE
- WHEN AND HOW TO HARVEST YOUR KALE
- RAPE KALE
- BEST VARIETIES OF KALE
- PESTS AND DISEASES OF KALE
How To Grow Kale (Italian)
Pest and Disease Control
Kale suffers the usual brassica pests and diseases but to a far lesser extent.
I don’t want to put you off but there are a couple of things you’ll need to look out for when you’ve planted your seedlings. Sprouts belong to the cabbage or Brassica family so all the same pests and diseases apply as cabbage. As with so many things, prevention is better than cure so here we go:
Cabbage root fly
Cabbage root fly is a small grey fly a bit like a small house fly. It lays it’s eggs at the base of cabbage seedlings, the eggs hatch into maggots and then burrow down to feast on the new roots of your plants.
Young plants will begin to wilt and eventually stop growing. The leaves will start to take on a blue\green colour. If you bite the bullrt and pull up the plant you will see white maggots tucking into the roots.
The best organic method of control is to cover your calabrese with bionet (micromesh) to stop the fly laying it’s eggs. Make sure the net is sealed all the way round to prevent access by the fly.
Cabbage collars. You can either buy or make these yourself from roofing felt or carpet underlay.
The collars are a circle of material covering the soil around the base of the plant which helps prevent the root fly laying its eggs around the stem and stops the maggots burrowing down to the roots.
Nematodes. These are naturally occuring microscopic worm which attacks the larvae of the cabbage root fly. The nematodes are in your garden soil anyway you’re just increasing the numbers. It is a non chemical product so is safe for use around pets and children. You will need to do a couple of applications but in my opinion it’s well worth it as you’ll also protect a whole host of other crops.
Cabbage White Caterpillars.
The caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly will reduce your plants to a skeleton within a couple of days so clearly it’s best to keep on top of them. Look out for the yellow eggs of the butterfly under the leaves and brush them off. It’s much easier to remove the eggs than the caterpillars so this is well worth doing. The caterpillars in the photo are babies, they’ll get a lot bigger and do a lot more damage if you let them!
The best and easiest method however is to cover your crop with bionet as with root fly.
The Cabbage whitefly is an aphid (Like a greenfly, except white), it is less troublesome than other cabbage pests but worth keeping an eye on. The adults are tiny white insects which you’ll find on the underside of the leaves. They produce a sticky substance called ‘honeydew’ which will probably cause a grey mould later.
Remove any yellowing leaves at the base of the plant as they may be harboring aphid eggs. You can wash off whitefly, honeydew and grey mould with a strong jet of water.
Clubroot is one of the most tricky diseases you’ll encounter in the garden but with proper precautions it can be successfully controlled. If you start a new vegetable garden the chances of having clubroot are pretty slim and you can prevent it entering quite easily. If you do get clubroot the cysts survive for up to 9 years in the soil. You won’t be able to grow any of the cabbage family (Brassicas) until it’s gone so you’ve been warned!
The disease usually arrives in your garden through infected transplants or by walking from infected soil into a virgin patch. If you have an isolated garden you are unlikely to get it whereas you need to be more careful in established allotments.
Poor growth with wilting leaves of a reddish-purple colour. If you pull up the roots you’ll see swollen, knobbly deformed growth with a pungent foul odour. In more advanced cases the roots will have dissolved into a slimy pulp.
If you have clubroot already seek out varieties with resistance to the disease, this will be clearly marked as an advantage on the pack.
Otherwise you’ll just have to live with it, you can minimise it’s effects by doing the following:
- Not composting your brassica roots, burn them.
- Don’t sow brassica famiy green manure. (Mustard, Rape)
- Start your plants in modules. (I’d recommend that anyway).
- Lime the soil the previous Autumn to make it more alkaline (Clubroot likes acid conditions).
- Grow in raised beds as clubroot likes wet conditions.
Cabbage White Butterfly
Remember to keep an eye out for cabbage white butterfly eggs on your kale plants. Look under the leaves for the little yellow eggs and brush them off.
It is much easier to cover your crops with micromesh (enviromesh) if you haven’t done so already. Make sure no butterfly gets in while you’re doing it!
10 Tips for Growing Cannabis
1. GENETICS PLAY A FUNDAMENTAL ROLE
The quality of a cannabis crop is partially determined before the first seed is ever planted. Seed selection is a massive part of the process and will heavily influence the final outcome of your buds. Every grower will have their own preference when it comes to strains. Some prefer a powerful, cerebral sativa high that leaves them feeling energised and motivated. Others opt for stoney indica highs that result in calm and restful states. Other growers seek medicinal strains, and will likely prefer genetics that offer higher concentrations of CBD.
Genetic considerations should also be made depending on the type of environment that a grower has access to. For example, if growing in a small indoor space, then autoflowering strains might be the best option. However, if growing in a large outdoor space, then perhaps you would prefer genetics that result in huge, towering bushes.
2. USE SEEDS AND AVOID CLONES
Another factor to consider before beginning the grow is whether to use clones or seeds. Starting a grow using clones may have some advantages, but it is indeed risky business. Clones produce plants that are an exact genetic copy of the original “mother” plant from which they were taken. The genetic traits that carry over can include certain weaknesses and diseases that the original plant experienced. Therefore, if you receive a clone from a plant with an unknown history, you run the risk of starting the grow in a negative position.
Additionally, clones that are ordered online and come in the mail will more than likely arrive at their location in a state of shock, meaning they will need time to adjust, which ultimately adds even more time to an already lengthy growing process.
3. SELECT FEMINIZED SEEDS
It’s very important to selected feminized seeds before embarking on a growing operation with the aim of producing massive, top-quality yields. Doing so will ensure you avoid catastrophes that can greatly slow down the process and even reduce the yield of an entire crop.
Feminized seeds are bred to harbour no male chromosomes, meaning that every plant grown from them will be a female plant that offers smokeable flowers. Since only female cannabis plants produce medical and recreational marijuana, they are favoured by most cultivators over their male counterparts.
Therefore, choosing to start a grow with feminized seeds allows growers to avoid the time-consuming process of identifying any male plants early in the flowering phase and removing them from the grow space.
Not only will using feminized seeds save time, they will also help you avoid potentially disastrous errors. If any males within the grow space are missed, they will start to release pollen and subsequently pollinate the surrounding females. Once a female has been pollinated, her efforts to grow large buds coated in sticky resin will cease, instead diverting her energy into creating seeds instead. This is the last thing you want if you’re hoping for a potent harvest of cannabis flowers.
4. QUALITY PLANTS NEED QUALITY SOIL
In order to maintain a healthy body that functions properly, we need to meet certain nutritional and caloric demands. The same can be said for our cannabis plants. To remain robust and vibrant, plants need to be exposed to the correct amount and type of nutrients, which they uptake from the soil through their root system.
If you pot your plants using a basic, poor-quality soil, then it’s highly likely they will start to become deficient in certain minerals and elements further down the line. These deficiencies might slow growth and even reduce the quality of your flowers. To ensure that your crop is receiving the full spectrum of nutrients that it needs for optimal growth, use quality organic soil that is full of nutrients and requires few amendments until near the end of the grow cycle.
5. FERTILISERS AND BOOSTERS
Using a quality soil should enable you to avoid adding certain supplements to it that could end up doing more harm than good. If your soil is depleted, your plants will start to suffer the consequences. This is where some growers opt for synthetic products to attempt to restore the health of their plants.
However, the incorrect use of these products can result in undesirable outcomes such as root burn and the damaging and weakening of leaves. These scenarios can result in nutrient lockout and may obstruct adequate photosynthesis.
6. EXPOSE YOUR PLANTS TO PLENTY OF LIGHT
Remember that lesson about photosynthesis in biology class? Well, it’s finally time to apply those teachings to a real-life situation. Plants need light in order to create energy – energy that allows them to survive, thrive, and produce the frostiest and dankest buds imaginable.
When light hits the surface of leaves, the green pigment chlorophyll plays a role in converting this energy into sugars. These sugars are the food of plants, and the more they create and consume, the larger and more vibrant they become. So, it’s easy to see why plants should be given as much light as possible during the grow cycle.
What’s important to realise is that not all light sources are equal. If you believe you can get by using a standard desk lamp, your plants will soon wilt and weaken. When growing indoors, powerful and mighty grow lights like HPS and LEDs are required to provide your crop with enough light to grow fast and strong. Strong, bright lights will do wonders for your plants and will result in improved potency and much larger yields.
7. AIRFLOW AND VENTILATION
Airflow plays an important role when it comes to the overall quality of a crop. Not only does it help to maintain proper air quality, it also reduces the chance of mould, which prefers stagnant and damp environments with little airflow. Fans can be utilised to maintain a constant circulation of air. Exhaust systems, in conjunction with fans that pull the air out of a space, can be employed to ventilate the grow space.
8. KEEP THE TEMPERATURE OPTIMAL
Cannabis plants provide better results when their temperature needs are met. During the flowering phase of the grow cycle, a daytime temperature of between 18-26°C is ideal. When it comes to night temperatures, plants seem to thrive at a range of between 20-24°C.
Temperatures that are too low can have detrimental effects on plant health that could end up causing fatalities.
Wall thermometers can be used to monitor temperature, and devices such as heaters and air conditioners can be used to manipulate the temperature within indoor growing environments.
9. MONITOR HUMIDITY
Humidity is an important aspect of growing cannabis, and one that is often overlooked. Humidity simply refers to the amount of water vapour present within the air. Humidity can be manipulated in the grow space using humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Humidity can be measured using a hygrometer.
During the vegetative stage, plants prefer a humid environment and thrive in high humidity. Plants prefer less humidity during the flowering phase of the grow cycle, with optimal levels being around 40%. Less humidity during flowering lowers the chances of mould formation.
10. DRYING AND CURING
Drying and curing your harvest correctly is just as important, if not more important, than any other stage during the grow cycle. Making mistakes during this point could even cost you your entire harvest. Mould thrives in dark and moist conditions, so to decrease the chances of its formation, it is paramount to dry and cure your buds to remove any remaining moisture.
Drying can be achieved by evenly spreading buds across wire drying racks in an environment with good air flow.
Once dry, it’s time to begin curing. Place buds within wide-mouthed mason jars. Visit the jars once a day to check on the process. Open the lids to allow for air exchange to occur. Remove any buds that exhibit signs of mould. The longer you cure your buds for, the more pleasant of a smoke they will offer.
How to grow marijuana outdoors: a beginner’s guide
Growing cannabis is a fun and rewarding experience, but it is also challenging and takes a certain amount of time and money. For a first-time grower with limited resources, an indoor grow is probably too costly of an option.
The good news is that a small outdoor garden can yield plenty of quality cannabis without a large monetary investment. If you have access to a sunny spot in a private yard or even a balcony, terrace, or rooftop, you can successfully grow cannabis.
This guide to outdoor growing will go over all the different factors you need to consider in order to set up your first outdoor grow.
Step 1: Consider the climate
It’s crucial to have a good understanding of the climate in the area you’re going to grow. Cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, but it is susceptible to extreme weather.
Sustained temperatures above 86°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, even death.
Heavy rains and high winds can cause physical damage to plants and reduce yields, and excessive moisture can lead to mold and powdery mildew, especially during the flowering stage.
In addition to weather patterns, you need to understand how the length of day changes throughout the seasons in your area. For example, at 32° N latitude (San Diego), you will experience just over 14 hours of daylight on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), while at 47° N (Seattle), you will have about 16 hours of daylight on the same day.
Understanding the amount of sunlight throughout the year is crucial to causing plants to “flip” from the vegetative to flowering stage, when they start to produce buds.
It’s good to utilize local resources, as experienced gardeners in your area will have a wealth of knowledge about growing flowers and vegetables, and that information can also be applied to growing cannabis. If you have some experience gardening and growing veggies, you will probably find that growing cannabis outdoors is a fairly easy endeavor.
Step 2: Pick a space for your garden
Choosing a space for your outdoor garden is one of the most important decision you’ll make, especially if you’re planting directly in the ground or in large immobile containers.
Your cannabis plants should receive as much direct sunlight as possible, ideally during midday, when the quality of light is best. As the season changes and fall approaches, your plants will get less and less sunlight throughout the day, which will trigger the flowering stage.
Having a constant breeze is good for your plants, and especially in hot climates. But if you live in an area with a lot of high winds, consider planting near a windbreak of some sort, like a wall, fence, or large shrubbery.
Finally, you will want to consider privacy and security. A lot of people want to conceal their gardens from judgmental neighbors and potential thieves. Tall fences and large shrubs or trees are your best bet, unless you live in a secluded area.
Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 15 feet tall or more, depending on how much you let them go.
Step 3: Decide on genetics
The success of your outdoor cannabis grow will also depend on choosing the right strain to grow for your particular climate and location. If you live in an area with a history of cannabis growing, chances are good that many strains will successfully grow there, and some may have even been bred specifically for your climate.
Seeds vs. clones
Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones. You can plant seeds directly into the garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.
The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with. If your seeds don’t come feminized, you could end up with both males and females, in which case you’ll need to sex them out to get rid of the males (only females produce buds).
Even when you do have all female plants, each will be a different phenotype of the same strain. To get the best version of that strain, you’ll need to select the best phenotype, which can be a lengthy process. A lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds.
Depending on the legality of cannabis in your state, you may be able to buy clones or seedlings from a local dispensary. Some growers stay away from these because they feel they aren’t as sturdy as growing plants from seed.
Autoflowering seeds are another popular choice for outdoor growing, as they start blooming as soon as they reach maturity regardless of the length of day. You can either have a quick-growing crop, or fit multiple harvests into a year with autoflowering cannabis.
The downside to autoflowering cannabis is that they tend to have a lot less potency.
Step 4: Acquire some soil
Soil is made up of three basic components in various ratios:
You can plant directly in the ground or buy soil and put it in pots. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage. If you decide to plant directly in the ground, you’ll need to understand your soil composition and amend it accordingly.
Heavy clay soils drain slowly and don’t hold oxygen well, so they will need to be heavily amended. At least a month before you plant, dig large holes where you’ll be placing your cannabis plants and mix in big amounts of compost, manure, worm castings, or other decomposed organic matter. This will provide aeration and drainage, as well as nutrients for the plants.
Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. Again, you will want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together. In hot climates, sandy soil should be mulched to help with water retention and to keep roots from getting too hot.
Silty soil is the ideal growing medium. It’s easy to work, warms quickly, holds moisture, has good drainage, and contains a lot of nutrients. The best silty soil is dark crumbly loam—it’s fertile and probably won’t need any amending.
If you really want to ensure good results and minimize headaches, you can get your soil tested, which is easy and relatively inexpensive. A soil testing service will tell you the makeup and pH of your soil, notify you of any contaminants, and recommend materials and fertilizers to amend your soil.
Step 5: Get some fertilizer
Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How you choose to feed them will depend on the composition of the soil and your own methods.
Commercial fertilizers aimed at home gardeners can be used if you have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need. But a first-time grower might want to avoid these, particularly long-release granular fertilizer.
You can purchase nutrient solutions designed specifically for cannabis from your local grow shop, but they are usually expensive and can damage soil bacteria—they are generally composed of synthetic mineral salts and intended for indoor growing.
Organic fertilization takes full advantage of microbial life in soil and minimizes harmful runoff. There are many different natural and organic fertilizers available at local home and garden stores, like blood meal, bone meal, fish meal, bat guano, and kelp meal.
Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some of these materials release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others take weeks or months to release useable nutrients. If done correctly, you can mix in a few of these products with your soil amendments to provide enough nutrients for the entire life of your plants.
Again, getting your soil tested can be very useful and will tell you how to amend your soil and what types and amounts of fertilizer you should use. If you are unsure how much to use, be conservative—you can always top dress your plants if they start to show deficiencies.
Step 6: Choose your containers
You may need to put all of your plants in containers if you don’t have great soil. Also, if you’re unable to perform the heavy labor needed to dig holes and amend soil, containers may be the only way for you to grow your own cannabis outdoors.
If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on decks, patios, rooftops, and many other spots. If needed, you can move them around during the day to take advantage of the sun or to shield them from excessive heat or wind. You can also use common cannabis nutrients designed for indoor growing because you will be using premixed soil. This will take much of the guesswork out of fertilizing your plants.
However, plants grown in pots, buckets, or barrels will likely be smaller than those planted in the ground because their root growth is restricted to the size of the container. In a broad sense, the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant, although it’s possible to grow large plants in small containers if proper techniques are used.
In general, 5-gallon pots are a good size for small to medium outdoor plants, and 10-gallon pots or larger are recommended for big plants. Regardless of size, you’ll want to protect the roots of your plants from overheating during warm weather, as pots can quickly get hot in direct sunlight. This will severely limit the growth of your plants, so be sure to shade your containers when the sun is high in the sky.
Step 7: Give your plants water
While outdoor cannabis gardens have the benefit of utilizing rain and groundwater, you will most likely need to water your plants frequently, especially in the hot summer months. Some giant cannabis plants can use up to 10 gallons of water every day in warm weather.
Growers who live in hot, arid places will often dig down and place clay soil or rocks below their planting holes to slow drainage, or plant in shallow depressions that act to funnel runoff toward other plants. Adding water-absorbing polymer crystals to the soil is another good way to improve water retention. Water your plants deeply in the morning so they have an adequate supply throughout the whole day.
If you live in a particularly rainy climate, you may need to take steps to improve drainage around your garden, as cannabis roots are susceptible to fungal diseases when they become waterlogged. These techniques include:
- Planting in raised beds or mounds
- Digging ditches that direct water away from the garden
- Adding gravel, clay pebbles, or perlite to the soil
If you’re using tap or well water, it’s a good idea to test it first. This water can contain high levels of dissolved minerals which can build up in soil and affect the pH level, or it can have high levels of chlorine which can kill beneficial microorganisms in soil. Many people filter their water.
Plants grown in hot or windy climates will need to be watered more frequently, as high temperatures and winds force plant to transpire at a quicker rate.
Remember that over-watering is a common mistake made by rookie growers—the rule of thumb is to water deeply, then wait until the top inch or two of soil is completely dry before watering again. An inexpensive soil moisture meter is a good tool for a beginner.
Step 8: Protect your cannabis plants
Without the ability to control the environment as easily as you can indoors, outdoor cannabis growers have to protect their plants from storms and other weather events that could damage or even kill plants.
Temperatures below 40°F can quickly damage most varieties of cannabis, so if you live in a climate where late spring or early fall frosts are a common occurrence, try using a greenhouse or other protective enclosure.
High winds can break branches and overly stress your plants. If your garden is located in a particularly windy spot or if you’re expecting a particularly heavy blow, set up a windbreak. This can be as simple as attaching plastic sheeting to garden stakes around your plants.
While helpful for watering your garden, rain is generally seen as a nuisance by cannabis growers. It can severely damage your crop and cause mold and mildew. You especially don’t want rain on your cannabis plants when they are flowering.
You can construct a DIY greenhouse or even just use plastic sheeting and stakes to build a temporary shelter over your plants when you know rain is on the way.
Protecting your cannabis garden from pests can be challenging. Depending on where you live, you might have to keep large animals like deer at bay by building a fence around your crop.
But the more difficult challenge is dealing with the vast array of crawling and flying insects that can attack your plants.
The best protection is to simply keep your plants healthy. Strong, vigorous cannabis plants have a natural resistance to pests that makes minor infestations easy to deal with. It’s also a good idea to keep your cannabis plants separate from other flowers, vegetables, and ornamentals, as pests can easily spread between them.
Examine your cannabis plants a few times a week with an eye out for pests. An infestation is far easier to deal with if caught early.
There are many organic pesticides designed for use specifically on cannabis, and beneficial insects are also a great option.
You should now have enough knowledge to successfully start your own outdoor cannabis garden. Cultivating and growing plants is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime, so remember, spend lots of time with your plants, and have fun!
5 Tips For Growing Cannabis Indoors
Before you throw your favorite seeds in a pot and put it under the kitchen light, you’re going to want to educate yourself on how to set up for a successful indoor grow room. Growing cannabis is a time-consuming process that requires patience and education. At CannaCraft our cultivation sites are all outdoors, but we understand that greenhouses and acres of open land are not an option for everyone. And that, my friends, is why we’ve put together the top 5 tips for your personal indoor grow!
These are yours for free. You’re welcome.
Similar to real estate, location, location, LOCATION! Precise positioning is essential for growing. Environmental elements such as space, light, temperature, and humidity need to be considered as factors that will affect growth. For beginner growers, we recommend starting small. An area such as a closet or cabinet is the perfect starter space. Keeping the space small allows you to more accurately manage and maintain the plant’s environmental conditions without the burden of making costly mistakes. The larger the room, the higher the number of factors needed to take into consideration. Choosing a small space will minimize the necessity for large and expensive humidifiers, air conditioning, and lights.
2. Environmental Elements
As we said above, when growing cannabis, environmental control is the meat and potatoes. Learning how to adjust elements such as light, humidity, and temperature will enable you to correct conditions in real time, saving your plant and setting up for a great harvest. You’ll also want to become aware of your plant’s indicators signaling that one or more of these elements are off. Identifying your plant’s signals and appropriately modifying the correct element is key to growing a blissful bud.
With so many different options, choosing the right lighting system for your grow room can be overwhelming. Starting off, we recommend fluorescent grow lights, specifically those with high-output (HO) T5 bulbs. These bulbs are perfect for a small plant that will stay under 24 inches tall. Keeping the lights between 1-4 inches away from the top of your plant will help prevent burning. While the seedling is small, set the light closer and as it grows you’ll adjust it accordingly.
As a rule of thumb, a good way to know that the light is too close is to place your hand where the top of your plant will be so the back of it is exposed to the light. After ten seconds, if the light feels uncomfortably hot then the light is too close for your plant to prosper. The bulbs we recommended are perfect for maximizing cannabis bud production without creating an abundance of heat. Additionally, investing in a timer will help you regulate changing the light cycle from day to night. The more automated the process, the less chance for mistakes.
Temperature & Humidity.
By controlling the climate of your grow room, you can mimic mother nature’s changing seasons and transition your plant from the vegetative stage to flowering stage. Higher temperatures can cause your plant to wilt while cooler temperatures will slow the growth. The ideal temperature with lights is between 70-85 degrees F. When the lights are off, the ideal temperature is between 58-70 degrees F.
Relatively high humidity, around 60-70%, during the vegetative growth phase can be beneficial; however, once the plant begins to flower, lowering the humidity as much as possible is key–otherwise you risk mold getting into the buds and destroying your beautiful green nuggets. Keeping track of the humidity level on a daily basis is crucial. If it’s too humid, simply set up a dehumidifier and continue monitoring.
3. Soil & Seeds
When selecting soil, any high-quality potting soil will work, as long as it doesn’t contain any artificial extended release fertilizers. Ensure that you never use any soil that has nutrients added. The three nutrients required to grow a healthy cannabis plant are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which should be naturally occurring in soil.
Now comes the fun part–choosing your seedling! Determining the right strain for you can be a tricky process. Whether you choose an indica or sativa, remember it’s crucial to start with feminized seeds so the cannabis plant will produce buds. Generally, choosing an indica strain is best for beginners because they’re short and bushy, perfect for a small space.
After choosing the right seeds, you need to germinate them. To begin the germination process, simply place your seeds on a wet paper towel with a small amount of sunlight for 24-32 hours. Once your seeds are germinated, poke small holes in the soil about an inch below the surface. Always separate your seeds to give them enough space to grow into full maturity without choking out or restricting one another. Next, plant your seeds in the holes you created and cover them lightly with soil. Alternatively, if you choose to start off with a healthy clone, the rooting process is already complete. These plants can be placed directly into the soil mixture. Be sure to give your newly planted herb a nice amount of moisture. Keeping the soil moist but not soaked will give your seedling the necessary nutrition to grow.
4. Timing Is Everything
As your seedling begins to grow, keep it well-watered, but not flooded. After watering, wait until the top inch of soil feels slightly dry to the touch before watering again. Over watering your cannabis plant can kill it, so be sure to not go overboard.
After 14 days, your cannabis seedling is ready to go into their vegetative stage. During the vegetative stage, your cannabis plant focuses on getting big and strong. You can expect your cannabis plant will grow leaves and stems but not bud. At this stage, the plants will need at least 18 hours of “daylight.” As stated before, continue regulating the light’s distance to ensure your plant isn’t getting burned as it grows.
The final stage is the flowering stage, where your cannabis plant will bloom beautiful buds. It’s vital that your plant now receives a 12-hour dark period every day until the final harvest. The flowering stage tends to take anywhere from 7 to 9 weeks depending on the strain; however, sativa strains often longer than 9 weeks to produce full sized buds.
As silly as it sounds, don’t forget to send your plant some love once in a while. By checking in on your plant, you’ll pick up on important signals it could be giving off that it isn’t doing well. A happy, thriving plant is beneficial to more than just the final yield–gardening has been proven to be beneficial for humans, as well.
How to grow kale
Easy-to-grow kale, with its superfood qualities, is a must-have in your home grown vegetable collection.
There are many varieties to choose from, some with handsome foliage that’s highly ornamental too, whether you’re growing it in veg patches, borders or containers.
Follow the advice in this handy guide to grow your own kale.
Easy-to-grow kale, with its superfood qualities, is a must-have in your home grown vegetable collection. Sowing kale seeds
Sowing kale seeds
Seeds can be sown in modules, indoors, or outdoors in warmer weather and transplanted 6-8 weeks later.
Planting kale seedlings
Looking after kale plants
Seedlings should be planted firmly into moist but well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade.
Plants will benefit from adding well-composted manure to the soil before planting. And a good mulch is also helpful to keep plants moist and weed free. Remove any flower shoots to encourage the production of plenty of healthy leaves.
Watch Monty’s video on planting out kale seedlings.
Purple kale leaves
Kale can be grown as a cut-and-come-again crop. Young tender leaves can be harvested for salads. If left to mature for winter greens, plants can be left in the ground through the winter and picked as required for soups and stews.
Kale leaves are best used when freshly picked. However, they can be blanched and then frozen to store for later use.
Curly kale leaves
Preparation and uses of kale
Delicious steamed or fried, kale leaves are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Young kale leaves can be eaten in salads and stir fries and also make a great addition to stews and soups.
Here are some kale recipe suggestions from our friends at Olive Magazine.
Damaged kale plant
Kale: problem solving
Another good reason for growing kale is that it’s a relatively pest-free member of the Brassica family. The biggest problem comes from greedy birds, so use bird scarers and net your crops.
If left to flower, kale plants can be a vital source of nectar and pollen for early bees.
Kale ‘Ragged Jack’
Kale varieties to try
- ‘Cavolo Nero’ – a handsome Italian kale, with long, plume-like leaves that are very ornamental in winter, particularly when dusted with frost
- ‘Black Tuscany’ or ‘Nero di Toscana’ – has green, crinkled, strap-like leaves. It is good for winter or spring greens, and can be grown as an ornamental plant
- ‘Ragged Jack’ or ‘Russian Red’ – an heirloom variety, with frilly, red-tinged leaves and purple-red stems; it will easily self-seed
- ‘Scarlet Curled’ – an ornamental, dwarf, curled variety with violet-green leaves that turn violet-red after frost
- ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ – a highly ornamental, dwarf variety with curly, dark green leaves, as its name suggests
In recent years, it’s gotten a reputation as a superfood. Leaf cabbage, also called kale, is a brassica species which really packs a punch. But growing kale isn’t something a lot of people consider doing.
They should! Vitamin-packed kale (Brassica oleracea) is considered to be among the world’s healthiest foods. Rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, it’s also mineral-rich, packing a good calcium and potassium punch. For a leafy green, it’s protein-rich as well. One cup of kale will give you 2.2 grams of protein.
We’re going give you the best tips for growing kale, including information about the various types and a good number of planting tips. By the time we’re done, you’ll be a kale growing expert.
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Helpful Products For Growing Kale:
- Neem Oil
- Monterey BT
- Garden Dust
- Garden Safe Snail & Slug Bait
- Beneficial Nematodes
- Bonide Copper Fungicide
Quick Care Guide
Redbor and Prizm kales grown together. The Prizm tends to grow more slowly, creating layers. Source: Lorin Nielsen
|Common Name||Kale, lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, leaf cabbage, etc.|
|Scientific Name||Brassica oleracea|
|Germination Time||10-14 days|
|Days to Harvest||45-110 days depending on variety|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Water||1” to 1.5” per week|
|Temperature||Cooler temperatures preferred but can grow year-round|
|Humidity||Tolerant of humidity but can develop problems|
|Soil||Well-draining, rich soil, slightly acidic|
|Fertilizer||Balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer or rich compost|
|Pests||Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, etc.|
|Diseases||Clubroot, alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose, etc.|
Recommended Kale Varieties
A member of the cabbage family, kale comes in different varieties. Let’s go over them now and explore the variations.
A bed of dwarf blue curled Scotch kale. Source: cultivar413
These kale types are considered ruffled or frilled leaf types. The leaves form dense, deep curled patterns which look almost like gathered lace.
Often used for ornamentation or plating in cooking, these also work extremely well in salads and soups. Because of their pretty leaf shape, they’re some of the most common kales grown.
|Variety||Growing Time||Description||Where To Buy|
|Siberian Dwarf||50 days||14″ tall, super-hardy to cold temperatures. Ruffled leaves.||Buy Seeds|
|Redbor||50 days||My favorite kale, a magenta to deep purple frilly variety. Tasty stuff!||Buy Seeds|
|Scarlet||50 days||Green with purple tinges to full purple, beautifully frilly leaves.||Buy Seeds|
|Dwarf Blue Curled Vates||55 days||Bluish-green leaves, grows best in cooler spring or fall weather.||Buy Seeds|
|Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch||56 days||Heirloom early winter kale, great frost resistance. Good flavor.||Buy Seeds|
|Casper||60 days||Snow-white veins, sage-green margins. Unusually beautiful and tasty!||Buy Seeds|
|Prizm||60 days||Short, tight-ruffled deep-green leaves with almost stemless stalks.||Buy Seeds|
|Winterbor||60 days||Thick, blue-green leaves, vigorous. Especially good in winter but grows in spring/fall well too.||Buy Seeds|
|Red Ursa||65 days||A frilly Red Russian with vivid green leaves and deep red stems/petioles.||Buy Seeds|
|Darkbor||75 days||Hybrid medium-green kale with a tight curling to the leaves.||Buy Seeds|
Flat Leaf Kale
Russian red kale. Source: John and Anni
By contrast, these kale varieties tend towards flatter, easier-to-trim leaves. Some have fringe-like exteriors, giving them an interesting shape. One variety is even described as being like maple leaves.
Flat leaf kales tend to be more tender than the curly varieties, and work well in salads.
|Variety||Growing Time||Description||Where To Buy|
|Fizz||40 days||Quick growth, makes perfect baby greens. Finely-lobed leaves in golden-green.||Buy Seeds|
|Russian Red||50 days||Oak-like leaves with a red tinge and purplish stems. Tender and mild.||Buy Seeds|
|Bolshoi||55 days||One of the sweetest kales. Silvery-green leaves, magenta veins and stems.||Buy Seeds|
|Red||60 days||Flat leaves with cut margins, young growth is green but turns reddish-purple.||Buy Seeds|
|Roulette||60 days||Slate-green leaves, purple veins/ribs/stems. Flavorful and vigorous.||Buy Seeds|
|Premier||65 days||Medium-green foliage, with up to 1 foot long leaves. Big producer!||Buy Seeds|
|Forage Proteor||70 days||A forage kale for livestock feed with extreme winter hardiness.||Buy Seeds|
|Beira||80 days||Traditional leaf kale for Portugese kale soup, also called sea kale. Can reach 2 foot height.||Buy Seeds|
Nero di Toscana kale. Source: cristina.sanvito
Lacinato kale is commonly referred to as “dinosaur kale” simply because of the size and texture of the leaves. This variety grows tall, narrow leaves which are deep green in coloration and are bumpy like how one might envision dinosaur skin to be.
However, because of its savoyed and long leaf shape, it’s extremely easy to trim out stalks. The long leaf shape makes it easy to slice up for salads and use in soups and stews.
|Variety||Growing Time||Description||Where To Buy|
|Nero di Toscana||60 days||Deep, black-green leaves that reach lengths of up to 24″. Italian heirloom.||Buy Seeds|
|Black Magic||65 days||Toscano-type kale with long, narrow savoyed leaves.||Buy Seeds|
A mix of ornamental kales. Source: Hellebardius
Don’t let the name fool you! Ornamental kales are just as edible as the other kale varieties. Also referred to as “flowering kale”, ornamental kales are vibrant little patches of color in the garden.
Most ornamental varieties have a shorter leaf and a more cabbage-like round head, revealing their close relation to the cabbage. The center of these kale heads tends to provide a bright pop of color in the winter garden.
|Variety||Growing Time||Description||Where To Buy|
|Red Chidori||50 days||A frilly-leaf ornamental kale. Rich purple hue, sweet flavor.||Buy Seeds|
|Crane Red||110 days||An ornamental kale that’s also available as Crane Pink or Crane White. Beautiful in winter gardens.||Buy Seeds|
|Crane Feather King White||110 days||Serrated ornamental kale, also available as Crane Feather Queen Red.||Buy Seeds|
|Sunrise||110 days||Small-headed, leaf-type kale. Green outer leaves fade to creamy white with a delicate pink center.||Buy Seeds|
|Sunset||110 days||Similar to Sunrise, but in vibrant pink.||Buy Seeds|
|Nagoya Rose||90 days||Available also as Nagoya Red and Nagoya White, formerly called Emperor. Beautiful ornamental with leaves like flowers.||Buy Seeds|
|Song Bird Pink||Only available as cuttings/plants. Outer deep green leaves, inner pink leaves. Also available as Song Bird Red.||Buy Plants|
|Glamour Red||Only available as cuttings/plants. Glossy leaves, multiple rings of different leaf colors. Beautiful winter kale.||Buy Plants|
A young scarlet kale plant. Source: littlenomada
Planting kale itself is extremely easy. Just follow the steps below!
When To Plant Kale
Depending on where you’re located, early spring through summer is best for planting kale. If you’re in an area where it doesn’t regularly get below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow most types throughout the winter as well.
For these areas, plant your winter kale in the fall so it has time to become established before the chilly weather comes on.
If you’d like to get a jump on spring planting, you can start your seeds indoors in the latter part of the winter. Use a seedling heat mat to keep the soil warm.
Once the seeds emerge, use a grow light to provide them with ample “sun” until you can harden them off outdoors.
Where To Plant Kale
In most cool climates, kale should be planted in full sun conditions. For locations where there’s extremely hot summers, you can plant in partial shade to prevent the leaves from bittering.
Kale grows extremely well in raised bed situations, but will also grow just as happily in a standard garden bed.
You can also grow kale in a container. You’ll want pots that are gallon-sized or larger for each plant. I actually prefer larger ones so the roots have plenty of room.
As this plant can last for more than one year, you may want to take into consideration how large you want it to get. Older kale can get tall, and you may need to take that into consideration when planning.
Naturally, kale is biennial, meaning that it can take up to two years to complete its flowering cycle and then die off. Most people grow crops of kale as an annual.
It’s a gorgeous ornamental, even if you don’t want to eat it! Some varieties like Redbor produce stunning, ruffled purple or reddish leaves that can create a bright counterpoint for other plants.
How To Plant Kale
Begin by loosening the soil and adding any fertilizer you wish to add.
Once your soil is prepared, plant seeds 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep. Once they’ve come up, wait 2 weeks and then thin out the seedlings. Ideally your plants should be about 10″ apart, but anywhere from 8″ to 12″ is fine.
For transplanting young kale plants see the section below, as planting seedlings is slightly different.
Caring For Kale Plants
Winterbor kale. Source: Fauxlaroid
For the most part, a kale plant will take care of itself, provided it’s got what it needs. When growing kale, make sure you have the best conditions you can provide. Keep reading to learn what conditions are optimal.
In most moderate climates, full sun conditions are just fine for your kale. The more light you can provide, the better. Same with cooler climates.
However, if you live in the desert, aim for partial sun conditions. Kale will benefit from some afternoon shade during the worst heat of the day.
Kale requires at least 6 hours of sun per day even in partial shade for best growth.
Kale seeds will germinate at as low as 40 F, but they sprout more quickly at soil temperatures in the 60’s.
The plant itself loves temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, and will thrive at that range. However, it can tolerate weather extremes very well.
In the heat, leaves will become more bitter. In light frost conditions, the leaves become sweeter and can pick up an almost nutty flavor.
Full freeze conditions require some form of protection, such as a cold frame. Established plants will tolerate extreme heat, but will require extra water and can benefit from mulching to slow its evaporation.
As kale can be grown as a biennial, it will grow year-round. Trying to provide the best temperature range possible each season will make for happier, healthier plants.
Speaking of water, kale likes even, consistent moisture. An inch to an inch and a half of water per week is sufficient to keep your kale pleasantly happy.
However, you are going to need to ensure that your soil drains well. Kale typically doesn’t like to have wet feet. If your soil’s too soggy, it promotes fungal diseases like root rots, which will kill off an otherwise-healthy plant.
Red ursa kale. Notice the rich, dark color of the soil. Source: John and Anni
Well-drained soil is best for kale, as I just said. However, it’s a heavy feeder. Be sure to mix in plenty of compost prior to planting, along with a slow-release fertilizer. This provides ample nutrition for your plants.
If you have sandier soil, consider working in some organic material. Peat moss can provide moisture-retention while still allowing the excess water to drain easily. Most composts work similarly as well.
Clay soils need to be repaired to prevent water buildup on the soil surface. While kale can grow in a clay soil, it’s more susceptible to problems, and may not get as large as it might in other soil types.
Kale prefers a pH range of 5.5-6.5. You can use a neutral soil for kale, but it tends to be a bit happier if the soil is lightly acidic. Pine needle mulches work extremely well for kale as a result.
If you’ve prepared your soil properly, a single feeding of a slow-release fertilizer once you’ve harvested the leaves once is all that’s required for annual kale. Aim for a balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10 range.
If that’s not available, opt for higher nitrogen to promote leaf growth.
Granulated fertilizers should be broadcast over the soil’s surface, but avoid touching the side of the plant to prevent fertilizer burn.
Liquid fertilizers are usually diluted and are safe on the plant itself. Kale is especially fond of compost tea and fish emulsions, so these are great choices.
A high-quality compost used as a top dressing will generally provide all of the nutrition needs for your plant as well.
For those growing kale as a biennial, you will want to fertilize once per season to ensure it has sufficient nutrition. It will continue to produce leaves as long as it’s fed right!
An older Crane Red kale plant. Source: FarOutFlora
For pruning tips, see the “harvesting kale” section below. You shouldn’t have to prune it except during harvest time.
I do recommend removing bug-eaten leaves or those which are browning or withering, as they might be diseased. Dispose of those appropriately.
As the plant ages, the lower leaves become inedible first. They will yellow and drop off on their own. Remove them to the compost pile so they don’t encourage pests to take up residence.
If you’re growing ornamental kales, you can also remove outer leaves to try to brighten up the bunch. Simply snip them off close to the stem as necessary.
Kale is most often propagated by seed, as mentioned above. You can also start growing kale from cuttings.
For cuttings, find an extremely healthy side stem with multiple leaves, and cut it at the main stem of the plant. Trim off lower side leaves, leaving only the top leaf.
Once your side leaves are removed, examine what’s left. If it’s a large leaf, cut off the top half of the leaf, leaving only the bottom half attached to the stem. This reduces the size of the leaf that the stressed plant will need to care for.
Cut the base of the stem at a 45-degree angle just below one of the leaf nodes, and place into a pot of prepared, well-draining and damp potting soil. Mist the soil regularly to keep it moist, but not wet.
It should develop roots within 3 weeks.
If you want to, you can dip the stem into rooting hormone before planting it, but this is purely an optional step. Some reports indicate that rooting is quicker and the plant healthier as a result.
You should be able to transplant your rooted cutting into the garden in about three months after hardening it off to the outside weather.
Black Magic kale, a lacinato or dinosaur kale variety. Source: Squirrel Nation
Planting a young kale plant is quite easy. Prepare your soil, then dig a hole that is large enough to fit all of the soil with the plant to be transplanted.
Carefully remove your kale seedling from its pot. Examine the bottom to make sure the roots are not wrapping around the soil. If they are, gently massage the root and soil mass to loosen it up.
Set your plant into the hole and cover it to just barely above where it had been planted before. Water it in well.
Growing Kale Microgreens
Did you know that kale can be grown extremely well as a microgreen? As the stem is edible along with its leaves, it makes for a tasty treat!
You can read my full piece on how to grow kale microgreens for a wealth of information on this topic. In that piece, I’ll take you through the entire process. Everything from seeding the tray, caring for the sprouts, and harvesting them is covered.
Good Companion Plants For Kale
Nagoya red kale in an ornamental setting. Source: Henryr10
Kale has friends, and it likes to spend its time around them!
Some plants which are good companions for kale include:
- alliums (garlic, onion, leeks)
- swiss chard
- some herbs (specifically basil, catmint, chamomile, thyme, rosemary, sage, dill, hyssop, and mint)
- some flowers (specifically nasturtium)
Of those good neighbors, catmint will repel flea beetles. Radishes will lure flea beetles away from the kale, as will nasturtiums (and nasturtiums will lure aphids away too). Mustard and bittercress will act as lures for caterpillars.
Basil should be grown near but not right next to kale. They know each other, but tend to fight for root space. Basil will also repel flea beetles from your kale, so it is useful to have nearby if not in the exact same bed.
However, kale has a few enemies as well. Avoid grapes, tomatoes, or rue near your kale plants, as they have a negative impact on the growth of your kale. Strawberries and kale also have a bit of enmity, so keep them separate as well.
Harvesting and Storing Kale
Red Russian, lacinato, redbor, and green Scotch kales. Source: Suzies Farm
While this process may seem a bit tricky, I’ll show you how to do it quick and easy!
How To Harvest Kale
The trick to know about harvesting kale is when it’s best to harvest.
In the heat of the summer, larger leaves can become more bitter, so it’s important to pick them when they’re still young and new rather than allow them to grow to monstrous sizes. This is also a great season for harvesting microgreens.
Early summer and fall harvested kale tends to be less bitter. Winter-grown kale is surprisingly sweet, as long as it doesn’t endure frost conditions that can harm the leaves.
If you are trying to harvest young leaves, you can begin removing the lowest leaves on the plant once it’s 4″ in height. Harvest full-grown leaves once the plant is 10″-12″ in height.
Allow the top clusters of leaves to remain intact for future growth. Usually, a typical harvest is just a handful of leaves.
In the peak heat of the summer, do a hard cutback of your kale to encourage new growth. This helps eliminate those bitter leaves. Remove all but the top four or five leaves from the kale plant, leaving a tall stalk.
Then, simply allow the leaves to grow back on their own. You should have new leaf growth within two weeks, giving you a late summer harvest.
Redbor kale. Source: tracie7779
Kale can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week without any problem at all, as long as you know how to protect it.
Do not wash your freshly-harvested kale unless you make sure it’s completely dry before storing.
Instead, bring your kale inside and wrap the bundle in paper towels. Place it in a zip-top bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Be sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before storing.
If you have a flat-leaf kale variety, it’s even easier to protect your leaves. Lay out a strip of paper towel, and place your leaves on top of it. Top with another strip of paper towel.
Then, starting at one end, gently roll it up into a bundle that will fit into your zip-top bag. Remove excess air from your bag, and place in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
If you’d like to prepare kale for future salad use, you can remove the stems and slice it into ribbons. Place it between paper towels in a zip-top bag with excess air removed.
Don’t waste the stems, though! You can cook the stems on their own as a nutritious green vegetable.
Heads of Crane White kale. Source: Chiot’s Run
Prepare a large pot of boiling, salted water, as well as a bowl of ice water. Remove the stems from your kale and drop the leaves into the pot until they brighten in color. This should take 1-2 minutes.
Then, remove the leaves. Place them in a colander and shake out any excess hot water, then submerge the leaves in ice water to stop the cooking. Once fully chilled, dry your leaves in a salad spinner or pat them thoroughly dry.
Place your dried kale leaves onto a baking sheet in the freezer until the leaves are frozen solid. This should take a couple hours. Once they’re completely frozen, transfer the leaves to a freezer bag with excess air removed.
These can be added to soups or stews while still frozen. They’ll thaw and cook in the soup, and they’re easy to chop down to a reasonable size while frozen. You can also add them directly to smoothie mixes.
Other Storage Methods
Kale can be canned. This requires a pressure canner, as it’s a low-acid food. Check the manual which comes with your pressure canner for a recipe, or look for a canning recipe book to ensure you have a safe method.
It can be dehydrated too! Have you seen kale chips at the market? They charge a small fortune for them, but you can make them at home.
A dehydrator with heat will quick-dry kale in under 5 hours, where an unheated or low-heat dehydrator may take as long as 8 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can always use your oven to make kale chips. Once made, either store them in a sealed, airtight container with a dessicant packet or a zip-top bag with all the air removed and a dessicant packet.
Kale can also be freeze-dried. While few of us have an expensive freeze-drier, those who do will find that you can freeze-dry the leaves to use later in soups, stews, or as kale chips on their own.
If it’s dehydrated or freeze-dried without any added flavoring, you can powder the dried leaves and store them in a mason jar with a dessicant packet. This kale powder makes a great addition to smoothies.
Troubleshooting Kale Problems
Kale doesn’t have many problems, but when it does, they’re typically pest or disease-related. Let’s go over some of those now and how to handle them.
A cabbage white butterfly can lay thousands of caterpillar eggs in your kale if not deterred. Source: tj.blackwell
Aphids, especially cabbage aphids and turnip aphids, find kale delicious. They also carry a wide number of plant diseases, and can cause major plant wilting.
Whiteflies and thrips can also come to play. Like aphids, these are sucking pests that will sap the life out of your plants. You don’t want any of them around while growing kale!
Beating all three is easy, as regular spraying of neem oil repels them. It also kills off existing infestations.
Caterpillars also feast on your kale. Cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, cutworms, and army worms all consume various parts of the plant.
Thankfully, there’s one solution for all of these caterpillars: bacillus thurigiensis var. kurstaki. Purchase BT in a spray form as Monterey BT, or in a powder as Garden Dust.
The root knot nematode can be another problem. They chew into root structures under the soil’s surface, causing major damage.
With these, you’ll want to fight back by applying beneficial nematodes as plant defenders. They take out many pests including root knot nematodes, fungus gnats, root maggots, wireworms, cucumber beetles, and more.
Speaking of root maggots, the cabbage root maggot is another major pest for kale. In addition, flea beetles can take up residence in and around your kale as well.
While beneficial nematodes can help wipe out root maggots, they don’t work against flea beetles. In these situations, I recommend PyGanic, a naturally-derived pyrethrin spray which can demolish both pests.
Finally, snails and slugs will leave slimy trails along your kale leaves and chew leaves into oblivion.
I recommend using Garden Safe Snail & Slug Bait, which you simply sprinkle around the outskirts of your garden. They’ll find it on their way to eat your kale, eat the bait instead, and die.
Larvae and aphids on a kale leaf. The tiny aphids can spread multiple diseases! Source: bbum
Clubroot is a common fungal disease among cole crops. It causes the roots of your kale to become clubbed and misshapen, plus prevents them from easily taking up water or nutrition.
The most difficult thing about clubroot is that most common fungicides won’t fix the problem. It’s spread by tiny fungal spores that can live in your soil for up to 20 years.
Your only real solution is to avoid planting susceptible crops in that location. Solarizing the soil to sterilize it may also help kill off the spores, but isn’t always successful.
Alternaria leaf spot is another problem. This fungal disease causes water-soaked brown or black spots on kale leaves, sometimes with a yellowish ring around the spots.
While there’s no cure for alternaria, there are prevention measures. Using a product with bacillus subtilis in it such as Serenade Garden will help build up plant resistance. Neem oil can help protect the leaves against the fungal spores.
Another fungal disease which strikes kale is anthracnose. This causes greyish to straw colored spotting on leaves and can also spot stems. Untreated, it weakens the plant and can lead to other diseases such as bacterial root rot.
Treatment for anthracnose involves spraying the plant thoroughly with a copper-based fungicide such as Bonide Copper Fungicide. Keeping the soil slightly more dry can help prevent further outbreaks.
The soil fungus Rhizoctonia can cause a number of problems for kale. Young seedlings can fall victim to damping-off, where they rot right at the soil line in moist soil. Older plants can become susceptible to wirestem, which can stunt the plant’s growth. It also causes bottom rot.
Avoiding rhizoctonia is usually as simple as being sure to rotate crops. Don’t plant new kale crops in the same location year after year. The fungus can live in the soil for up to three years, so practicing good crop rotation can allow it to die off.
Black leg, or phoma stem canker as it’s alternately called, is a newly-emerging fungal disease in the Pacific Northwest. It causes stunted growth and girdling of the stem, and can lead to reduced yields or plant death.
This disease currently has no established treatment other than to stop the spread of the fungal spores. Some chemical fungicides have proven to assist slightly with prevention.
Blackleg appears in areas which are prone to humid or wet conditions, and can be spread by soil, infected tools, or on the seed itself.
The only thing which has offered any hope so far is hot water seed treatment prior to planting, and prevention of the conditions for the spores to develop.
Avoid planting brassicas in an area where black leg has developed for at least four years, and consider solarizing the soil to try to kill off fungal growth. Destroy infected plants before they can produce more spores.
Downy mildew rounds out the list of fungal diseases that can hit kale. This causes yellow to white patches on the top of leaves, and underneath the leaf a grey fungal mass develops.
To avoid downy mildew, improve airflow around your plants and try to avoid getting them wet. It develops quickly in humid or moist conditions. Bonide Copper Fungicide will kill it, and neem oil is also effective.
Finally, there’s black rot, the only common bacterial infection of kale. All cruciferous crops are susceptible in varying levels to black rot. This causes yellowing on the edge of the leaf which gradually spreads to a V shape.
If it gets into the plant’s veins, it can destroy the entire plant.
While copper fungicides can help with black rot, what’s truly most effective is prevention. Ensure there’s good airflow around your plants, and try to reduce humid conditions as much as possible.
Rotate crops annually and wait at least two years before growing kale or other crucifers in that spot.
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Kale – Key Growing Information
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Brassica oleracea
CULTURE: Kale prefers a fertile, well-drained soil high in organic matter with a pH range of 6.0–7.5. Consistent moisture will produce the best quality leaves.
Direct Seed: Plant from early spring to approximately 3 months before expected fall frost. For bunching, sow 3–4 seeds every 12–18″, ½” deep, in rows 18–36″ apart. Thin to 1 plant per group. For baby leaf production, sow 60 seeds/ft. in a 2–4″ wide band ¼–½” deep.
EARLY SPRING CROP: Use varieties suited to warm season production. Sow 2 seeds per cell in 50- to 72-cell plug flats, 3–4 seeds/in. in 20-row flats, or in outdoor beds ¼” deep. Seedlings should be ready to transplant in 4–6 weeks. If possible keep soil temperature over 75°F (24°C) until germination, then reduce air temperature to about 60°F (16°C). Transplant outdoors 12–18″ apart in rows 18–36″ apart. Kale prefers cooler growing temperatures, between 55–75°F (13–24°C), optimum being 60–70°F (16–21°C), but will produce good crops under warmer, summer conditions.
FALL CROP: Start seedlings as above in May and transplant to the garden in June–July. To ensure mature heads, seed the crop early in areas where heavy freezes occur early in fall.
WINTER CROP: Successful kale crops can be grown where winters are mild . Transplants can be set out from September to February in these regions.
PESTS AND DISEASE: Kale is not as afflicted with pests as are other brassica crops such as cabbage. Apply row covers at the time of planting to exclude pests from the crop. Control cabbage worms and loopers with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Black rot and black leg can be seedborne. We only stock seed lots that have been tested free of black rot in a sample of 30,000 seeds. Individual seed lots have been tested free of black leg in a sample of 1,000 seeds.
NOTE: A disease-free test result means that in the sample tested, the pathogen targeted was not found. It does not guarantee a seed lot to be disease-free. However, no method of seed treatment can positively ensure freedom from disease. We are glad to help with specific questions.
DAYS TO MATURITY: From direct seeding; subtract about 14 days for days to maturity from transplant.
HARVEST: Beginning about 2 months after planting, harvest by clipping individual leaves. Kale is very hardy, and the eating quality will improve into the late fall with light frost. Late-summer sown or planted collards can be wintered in cold frames or hoophouses, or in the open in mild regions, to extend the season. Protecting with row covers can extend the harvest period.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE: For bunching: 1,000 seeds/220′, 1 oz./1,110′, 1 lb./24,000′. For baby leaf: 1,000 seeds/16′, 1 oz/115′, 1 lb./1,840′.
TRANSPLANTS: Avg. 6,400 plants/oz.
SIZED SEEDS: Standard except where noted.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: Avg. 124,000.
PACKET: 100 seeds, sows 22′.
Will Kale Grow In Containers: Tips On Growing Kale In Pots
Kale has become extremely popular, notably for its health benefits, and with that popularity has come an increase in its price. So you might be wondering about growing your own kale but perhaps you lack garden space. What about container grown kale? Will kale grow in containers? Read on to find out how to grow kale in containers and other information on potted kale plants.
Will Kale Grow in Containers?
Yes, kale (Brassica oleracea) will grow in containers, and not only that, but it’s easy to grow your own potted kale plants and they don’t need much space. In fact, you can grow one or two kale plants in a pot along with your annual flowers or perennials. For a bit more drama, you can add colorful Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) into the mix for another supply of healthy greens.
If you comingle the kale with other annuals and perennials, be sure to use those that have the same requirements in light, water, and fertilization.
How to Grow Kale in Containers
Kale is a biennial, cool weather crop that will grow in a container year-round in many regions, except during the hottest part of the summer. Kale is suited to USDA zones 8-10.
Choose a sunny location for the container with at least 6 hours of direct sun when growing kale in pots. Kale plants require rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
Choose a pot with a diameter of at least a foot (.3 m.) across. For larger containers, space the plants 12 inches (30 cm.) apart. Use a good quality potting soil (or make your own). You can directly seed after all danger of frost has passed for your region in the spring or you can plant seedlings.
Care for Container Grown Kale
Although kale needs sun, it can wilt or die if it gets too much, so mulch around the base of the plants with straw, compost, pine needles or bark to retain moisture and keep the roots cool.
Keep the kale watered with 1-1 ½ inches (2.5-3 cm.) of water per week; the soil should be moist down to an inch into the soil. Since potted plants dry out faster than those in the garden, you may need to water container-grown kale more often during hot, dry periods.
Fertilize with a tablespoon of 8-4-4 water-soluble fertilizer mixed into one gallon of water once every 7-10 days when growing kale in pots.
Many pests can affect kale, so here are some tips that should help:
- If you notice mites or aphids on the plants, treat them with a topical insecticidal spray.
- Pick off any caterpillars. Spray the kale with Bacillus thuringiensis at the first sign of cabbage moths or worms.
- To protect the kale from harlequin bugs, cover it with tulle (fine netting).
- Sprinkle the surrounding soil with slug and snail bait, diatomaceous earth or set up a slug bait of your own making because you’re going to need it! The slugs love kale and it’s a constant battle to see who gets the most of it.
Harvest the kale from the bottom of the stalk upward, leaving at least four leaves on the plant for continuous growth. If you have planted the kale in amongst other decorative, flowering plants and this looks unsightly to you, remove the plants and reseed or tuck in new kale seedlings.
Fertilizing and Watering Kale
When watering kale, the key is to keep the soil evenly moist. Kale will do well with a single application of balanced fertilizer after the first harvest.
If possible, use mulch to keep the soil cool and moist. This will cut down on the amount you have to water. Grass clippings and compost work well as mulch, as do shredded newspapers and stray. If you get a decent rain shower every week or so, your kale crop will likely do fine on its own. If you don’t get rain for awhile, you’ll need to water the plants yourself. A sprinkler works well for larger patches and only needs to run 10-15 minutes to get the soil moist enough. For just a few plants, use a light spray from a hose or water with a jug or can. Don’t over-water! Kale plants don’t do well if they sit in soggy soil for extended periods. The idea is to keep the first few inches of soil evenly moist.
If you amend your soil before planting, you probably won’t have to add fertilizer unless your soil is nutrient-deficient. Compost works well for mulch and it also slowly adds nutrients to the soil that can be retrieved by the roots of kale plants. If you want to use a commercial chemical product, granular and water-soluble types work well. Pay attention to the 3 number code on the label fertilizer. These three numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium that are contained in that particular fertilizer, respectively. For instance, a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potassium. A 5-10-10 bag would contain 5% percent nitrogen. A 10-5-10 bag would contain 10% nitrogen, 5% phosphate and 10% potassium. For kale, use something that is well-balanced. 10-10-10 works just fine.
If using a granular product, apply it as a side dressing. This means scattering the fertilizer down the middle of the row and to the side of the plants. You don’t want a granular fertilizer coming in direct contact with the plants because it could burn them.
After laying out the fertilizer to the side, water it in well. The nutrients will leech into the soil and be absorbed by the plants. For kale, most granular products are spread at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet.
You can also apply a water-soluble product, something like Miracle Gro. Just mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply when you would normally be watering kale plants anyway. With water-soluble products, it’s fine if the mix gets onto the leaves.
Unless you have an extremely long growing season, kale plants need just 1 dose of fertilizer and it’s usually applied after the first leaves are harvested. This gives the plants the boost they need to keep producing.
Now that you know about fertilizing and watering kale, it’s time to think about harvesting those lovely leaves.
HOW TO GROWKALE
QUICK CALENDAR FOR GROWING CURLY KALE
Sow Curly Kale seeds- the first week of May (UK average)
Transplant Curly Kale – the second week of June (UK average)
Sow Rape Kale in situ- the first week of July (UK average)
Begin to harvest Curly Kale – the last week of October
WHERE TO GROW KALE
Kale is one of the most tolerant vegetables and it will produce a decent crop in almost all conditions except heavy shade or water-logged ground. The very best conditions for growing kale are;
- Full sun
- Moderately heavy soil such as clay which also drains well
- Neutral to slightly alkaline soil (pH level of 6.5)
- Kale should definitely be part of a crop rotation plan. Click here to learn more about crop rotation.
WHEN AND HOW TO SOW KALE SEED
Because Kale continues to crop right through the winter it is often exposed to strong winds. For this reason it is best grown in relatively firm ground. With that in mind, add as much organic matter (compost heap etc.) as you can to to the planting area in November /December and dig it in well. Do no more digging on the ground after that, let it settle in time for planting / sowing seed.
For Curly Kale there are three methods to start it off – sowing seed where it is to grow, sowing in a seed bed or sowing in pots / modules. The last two methods will require you to transplant the young plants later in the season, but in the meantime, the ground can be used for other purposes such as new potatoes.
The timing for sowing Curly Kale seed is not critical, we would recommend some time around the first week of May (UK average). Curly Kale can be sown earlier in the season and it will also produce an earlier crop. However, the taste of Curly Kale improves in cold weather which is why most people prefer not to sow it earlier. Earlier sowings will also prevent the ground being used for an early alternate crop.
To sow Curly Kale in pots / modules, fill with compost nearly to the top. Make a 1cm hole in the compost surface and place two seeds in it. Cover lightly with compost. Water them in. The pots / modules can be placed on a window sill.
Germination normally takes about 10 days, with the ideal temperature being around 15°C. However kale will germinate within a very large range of temperatures, from 5°C to 30°C. Thin to one plant per module / pot
If sowing in a seed bed or where they are to grow permanently, make grooves in the soil about 1cm deep and sow the seeds thinly. Lightly cover with fine soil and water in well.
For seed beds, thin the plants to 10cm / 4in apart when they appear. For the ones growing in their permanent positions, thin to 50cm / 20ins apart.
TRANSPLANTING CURLY KALE
Curly Kale sown in seed beds or modules / pots will need to be transplanted to their permanent growing area. The best time to do this when the plants are 10cm / 4in to 15cm / 6in tall which should be around six weeks after the seeds were sown. The same applies to plants sown in a seed bed.
If the plants were raised indoors they will need to be hardened off for a week or so before transplanting.
Before transplanting, scatter a couple of handfuls, per square metre, of fish, blood and bone onto the planting area. When transplanting try to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. The plants should be planted 2cm / 1in deeper than the were previously. Spacing between plants and rows should be 50cm / 20in. Water well if the ground is at all dry.
CARING FOR CURLY KALE
Curly Kale requires very little attention after it is planted in its final position. The following care plan will ensure you get the best from them:
- Remove any yellowing leaves.
- Water well when conditions are dry.
- Weeding will be required initially but the plants will quickly grow large enough to smother all but the most determined weeds.
- When it comes time for harvest (see section below), harvest even if you plan not to eat all the leaves. Harvesting regularly will encourage new shoots and large leaves left on the plant will only become bitter and inedible.
- A nitrogen rich feed, such as Growmore, in mid February will encourage more side shoots.
- Taller varieties may need staking.
- If you provide cloche protection over winter, the leaves will be more tender.
WHEN AND HOW TO HARVEST YOUR KALE
Your Kale should be ready to start harvesting in late October / early November as full sized leaves and continue through to early March.
Start harvesting the largest leaves, leaving the smaller leaves to grow on. Remove about four leaves from each plant. The leaves should be about the size of an average person’s hand, these will be the tastiest. Smaller leaves can used in salads.
At the same time, remove any leaves which are much larger because they will be bitter and inedible.
When the top area is fully harvested this will encourage side shoots which can then be harvested from February to March when 10cm / 4in to 12cm / 5in long. Don’t over harvest, always leave several leaves to power the plant.
When you dig the plant up in March, all parts of it can be composted.
Rape Kale can be grown as Curly Kale but seeds should be sown directly into ground mid July and not in modules / pots / seed beds because it reacts badly when its roots are disturbed. It will produce a crop about a month later than Curly Kale.
BEST VARIETIES OF KALE
Whilst there are a couple of varieties of Rape Kale, plant breeders have concentrated almost exclusively on new varieties of Curly Kale. We have written a page dedicated to the best kale varieties which are easily available in the UK – that page can be be found here.
PESTS AND DISEASES OF KALE
Kale suffers from far fewer problems compared to the rest of the brassica family of vegetables (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower etc.) but it does occasionally suffer from similar pests and diseases such as caterpillars and Cabbage Root Fly. We have written a page on the pests and diseases you may encounter when growing kale which can be found here.
Kalettes are somewhere between Kale and Brussels Sprouts. They were bred by Tozer Seeds who wanted to create a new vegetable which had the taste of kale but the convenience in harvesting of Brussels Sprouts. The result is a vegetable which is slight larger than a sprout, has a milder but more nuttier flavour and has open leaves resembling baby kale.
Plants grow to about the same height as Brussels Sprouts, but instead of individual sprouts on the stem you have individual kalettes.
Kalette and Brussels Sprout (courtesy Tozer Seeds)
Kalettes have one disadvantage over Curly Kale and that is their short cropping season which is four to six weeks. However, the majority of the Kalette seed packs on sale are a mix of three varieties, which in effect extends the cropping season up to four months.
They can be grown in the same manner as Kale or Brussels Sprouts. These are tall plants at approximately 70cm / 2ft 4in high and in some areas will require staking. Plant them 45cm / 18in apart with rows 60cm / 2ft apart.
Kalettes were previously marketed under the names Flower Sprouts and Brukale.
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