We grow a lot of kale here. Because we consider ourselves homesteaders first and foremost, we don’t grow anything we don’t like ourselves. Fortunately, we love kale and so do our customers. It has become an important part of both our homesteading and our farm operation.
Kale is a cool weather crop, so we grow it in the spring and fall. In the spring we have a garden dedicated to brassicas, and kale shares the space with broccoli, cabbage and collards. In the fall we dedicate one garden to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and another garden entirely to collards and kale.
We enjoy our spring kale and are usually able to get a good crop in, but as the weather warms and the flea beetles and harlequin bugs arrive, growing it becomes challenging. The fall is a much better time for kale. Like all cooking greens, kale tastes best after it has been kissed by frost. And there are few bugs and weeds to worry about. But that doesn’t mean we’re without challenges in the fall.
We grow 3 types of kale: Siberian, Red Russian and Tuscan (aka Lacinato aka dinosaur).
Here kale can be started in flats and transplanted, or it can be direct-seeded. We usually do some of both.
In the spring kale is one of the things we plant as soon as the gardens can be worked. That depends upon when the ground dries out and the dates can vary wildly from year to year. I aim to plant in early March, but sometimes it doesn’t happen till April.
The weather is more reliable in late summer so we can plan on planting in mid-August. Kale is a winter-hearty plant, so unless we have an unusually cold winter, we can pick it until deep in the winter, overwinter it, then resume picking it when springs rejuvenates it. Assuming, of course, that the deer don’t eat it first.
Kale is a versatile vegetable in the kitchen and it shows up in lots of different foods for us. Two simple ways to enjoy it are braised and in a kale-bean soup.
With luck we’ll continue to enjoy fresh kale all winter, then, with more luck, in a little over 2 months we’ll begin planting more.