Growing Winter Kale

Posted: November 8, 2016

…and kale can take your garden right through the next spring and perhaps summer as well. This super-hardy, easy-to-grow leafy vegetable can tolerate a range of temperatures but it really loves cool weather. To my surprise and delight, after I planted a packet of dinosaur kale seeds (Lacinato), sometimes called black kale, in the late fall of 2015, it came into its own last spring. Rather than bolting to seed in the hot summer weather, it just kept producing flawless leaves.

Lacinato Kale aka Dinosaur is an Italian Kale that tolerates the heat.,The dinosaur kale was still hanging on in October 2016. By then it had definitely lost vigor, so finally I dug up the remains. After enhancing the garden bed with nutrients and some fresh composted soil, I have just now, in early November, planted more. That’s late, for sure, but even if those seeds don’t sprout before the really cold weather sets in, they will pop up early next spring and provide another few seasons of nutritious eating.

There are many varieties available, and all of them are economical, healthy additions to the winter kale diet. Try chopped kale leaves in soups and stews, or just cooked on their own and served with hot sauce or vinegar. Yum.

Red Russian Kale growing from seed in oval beds

Red Russian, White Russian kales and also Dwarf Siberian kale. The names indicate their hardiness.

I like to plant kale and other greens broadcast in oval beds about 2 feet by 4 feet. That makes them more decorative, less forlorn, than spread out in rows. Do prepare a fresh bed for kale seeds. Once you have added organic matter to the soil, rake it smooth and drop the seeds on top. Then lightly rake the soil to cover the seeds. In winter it’s a good idea to protect kale with a layer of straw. If you sow kale seeds thickly, as I do, use the inch-high thinnings like sprouts in salads or as toppings.

Red Russian Kale is a great winter kale but still like to be mulched

Kale grows well with plenty of water, but make sure there’s drainage so it doesn’t sit in damp conditions. By the way, the drought-stricken summer of 2016 failed to dent my dinosaur kale, so it can survive some mistreatment.

Written by Garden Ambassador, Nan Chase

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Nan Chase

NC Garden Ambassador at Sow True Seed
Writer Nan K. Chase has written about topics as diverse as the history of Islam and the history of the mini-skirt, about beauty pageants and about nuclear energy. An award-winning investigative journalist, she has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Air & Space, Southern Living, and many other publications. A long-time gardener, Nan lives in the mountains of western North Carolina.

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2 responses to “Growing Winter Kale”

  1. Thanks for your growing tips, Where I can buy kale seed online ? Thanks you

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