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Grow one of the most popular vegies of the decade – kale! This winter vegetable thrives in cold weather and is easy to grow in garden beds or pots. Toss kale leaves into salads, smoothies or bake into ‘chips’.


Kale is part of the mustard or cabbage family (Brassicaceae), so it’s related to broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and canola. Collectively, they’re known as cruciferous vegetables and are well known to promote general health and wellbeing. There are a few different types you can grow, including Tuscan, Curly, Blue Curl Scotch or Russian Red. Read on to see how to grow kale.

Location

If you live in warm temperate, cool or cold climate, plant kale in full sun. For those living in subtropical or tropical climates, plant in part-shade and this will help protect the leaves from burning or wilting.

Soil

Kale grows best in a moist, well-draining soil, enriched with plenty of organic matter like Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Food. Ideally, the soil pH should be slightly acidic, between 5.5-6.5 (see The Importance of Soil pH for more information on soil pH) for best growth. If the soil is not well-draining, improve it by adding organic matter and liquid gypsum or consider growing in pots if it is too difficult to work.

Fertiliser

As young kale plants grow, feed well with a fertiliser high in nitrogen, like Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food. This will encourage lush leafy green growth and promote stronger, healthier plants.

Water

Regularly water plants to ensure the soil remains moist. Apply a layer of organic mulch like pea straw or lucerne to help reduce moisture loss.

Pests and diseases

Kale plants are particularly prone to cabbage aphids. Treat at first sight with Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray Concentrate. They are also susceptible to the larvae of the cabbage white moth, which chew large holes in leaves and can quickly defoliate a plant if left untreated. Spray with Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer Dipel.

Harvest and maintenance

Harvesting kale is easy. Simply break off the lower leaves as needed, but leave at least 4-5 leaves, so it can continue to grow. Kale is a biennial plant, but it is typically grown as an annual crop, especially in warm climates. When the season warms up, kale goes to flower or bolts, and once it bolts, the leaves become tough and bitter. If you notice your plant forming flowers, pick all the leaves before they become inedible.

How to grow kale in a garden

  1. Fill starter pots or trays with Yates Seed Raising Mix. Sow seeds, lightly cover with soil and gently water. Keep the soil moist so the seeds don’t dry out.  
  2. While the seedlings are growing, choose a sunny or part-shade spot in the garden and prepare the planting area well by digging in Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. You can also sow direct into the garden bed once the soil has been enriched with organic matter. 
  3. Once seedlings have emerged, feed weekly with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food.  Allow seedlings to grow to about 4-6 cm before transplanting. 
  4. When transplanting them into your prepared garden bed, ensure seedlings are spaced at least 30 cm apart. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as sugar cane or pea straw and water in well.
  5. Feed weekly with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food to ensure strong root development and lush green leaves.
  6. Harvest continually to promote new growth. 

     
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How to grow kale in a pot

  1. Choose a pot at least 300 mm wide and position in a sunny or part shade spot and protect from strong winds.
  2. Fill starter trays with Yates Seed Raising Mix. Sow seeds, lightly cover and gently water. Keep the soil moist throughout germination. 
  3. Once seedlings reach 4-6 cm tall, fill chosen pot with quality potting mix, such as Yates Potting Mix with Dynamic Lifter. Choose healthy seedlings and transplant into pot and water in well with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food
  4. Feed weekly with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food to ensure strong root development and lush green leaves.
  5. Harvest continually to promote new growth. 

Yates varieties

Kale Tuscan

Cool season crop. Baby green leaves may be harvested 7 weeks after planting.Has a decorative use in the garden.

Kale Red Russian

Leafy kale is chock-full of nutrients, earning its status as a ‘superfood’.


Growing tips

  • Leaves will be darker, tender and sweeter when temperatures are cooler.

  • Rotate crops and plant kale in a different spot the following year – this helps reduce the potential of pests and diseases in the soil. 


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