Sow Kale: [Substrate, Care, Irrigation, Pests and Diseases]

Kale or kale is a vegetable with green or purple leaves. It is also called borreliosis. It is in the group of vegetables called Brassica oleracea or wild cabbage. It is cruciferous because of the shape of its flowers .

The kale began to be cultivated for the first time in the Mediterranean area, it was called cabbage long before the rounded variety existed.

Kale was an important crop in Roman times; It became a staple food for peasants in the Middle Ages and was brought to the United States by the English in the 17th century.

Kale is a member of the Brassica family , like cabbage, broccoli , cauliflower, radish, cabbage, Brussels sprouts , and other common «cabbage crops.»


Important points when planting kale
  • When? During the spring . Also in the fall , although it is more difficult.
  • Where? In a place that receives a lot of sun. It can also be partially shaded.
  • How do we prepare the land? The pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8. You need a soil rich in nitrogen , so it is advisable to addwell-decomposed substrate or manure .
  • How do we water? We recommend drip irrigation .
  • How often do we water? In summer you will need a lot of water. Suffer with high temperatures. I water every day or every other day.
  • Favorable associations? Legumes.
  • Unfavorable associations? Other cabbages, such as cabbage , broccoli, or cauliflower .
  • Plagues and diseases? Birds, caterpillars and the cabbage root fly.


Characteristics of kale or kale

Kale is one of the hardiest of the cabbage family; it can withstand temperatures as low as -15 ° C but cannot withstand high temperatures.

Because it withstands cold temperatures and grows easily, kale was for a long time a highly prized winter vegetable , especially in Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. Today, it is eaten all over the world.

Kale has large, fibrous, very curly leaves with a distinct flavor.

Their color ranges from pale green to dark green, sometimes to bluish- green . These leaves are not rounded, a characteristic expressed by the Latin word that describes this variety of cabbage «acephala» and which means «headless».

These leaves have a thin whitish and very fibrous stalk, which can measure from 30 to 40 cm. Kale is so decorative that ornamental varieties were developed . To learn more, read: Varieties of kale .


When to plant kale?

In early spring, kale can come out in your garden 3-5 weeks after the last frost.

However, if temperatures are likely to drop below 20 degrees, it is best to have floating row covers on hand; can cover young plants on cold nights.

For fall harvest, kale can be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost.

It is harvested from fall until the ground freezes in winter. In fact, kale greens often taste better after a couple of frosts.

Where to grow kale?

Kale does best in full sun, but tolerates partial shade.

Soil pH should be 6.5 to 6.8 to avoid disease.

Based on your soil analysis, prepare it with nitrogen-rich compost . The soil needs to drain well and also to be enriched for young leaves.

Tip: If you plant legumes ( peas , beans , beans …) nearby, they release nitrogen when they grow, so they can be a natural fertilizer.


How to sow kale step by step?

  1. If you are planting seeds , sow 1 centimeter deep in well-drained, light soil. After 2 weeks, prepare the seedlings so that they are 8 to 12 inches apart.
  2. If you are planting seedlings (which is more common), plant at the depth that they grow in the container. Give them enough space, between 30 and 40 centimeters between each of them.
  3. After sowing, water the plants well.
  4. It is important to keep the kale well watered and fed. If the rain is insufficient, give it more water each week. Especially in summer, where high temperatures can make our curly cabbages suffer.
  5. Our option for watering is drip irrigation. Make the most of the water better and avoid the fungus to a great extent.
  6. Cover the soil with mulch to keep out weeds and the soil will also be moist and cool as kale will not grow in high temperatures and dry soil.
  7. Mulch the soil again when fall comes; plants can continue to produce leaves throughout winter .

How to harvest kale?

Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are the size of your hand.

Collect about a handful of leaves per harvest. Start harvesting the oldest leaves first from the lowest section of the plant . (Discard any yellow or leaky leaves .)

Avoid picking the terminal shoot (which is in the upper center of the plant) as this will help keep the kale producing. The kale will continue to grow. It tastes even better when winter comes.

If you want to extend your harvest, protect your kale from the cold with row covers. Or, create a makeshift cover with old tarps and blankets held up by hay bales.

The small, tender leaves can be eaten raw and used in salads.


Kale pests and diseases

Kale is tough and stands up to most of Brassica’s problems.

Caterpillars can be a problem, but kale is often a second choice for a butterfly looking to lay eggs. However, you have to be careful. The same goes for aphids ( aphids ), etc.


Birds, especially pigeons, can cause a number of problems, including eating seedlings, sprouts, leaves, fruits, and vegetables.

Remedy: Protect the plants from the birds by covering them with nets or fleece. Scarecrows and bird-scaring mechanisms work for a time, but the most reliable method of protection is to cover the plants with fleece or horticultural mesh.

The cabbage root fly

Cabbage root flies are white larvae about 5 cm long, feeding on roots just below the soil surface, stunting growth and causing plants to wilt and die.

Remedy: Put an insect proof mesh or horticultural fleece. Seedlings are the most vulnerable.



A good number of caterpillars feed on brassicas, but the most common are the white cabbage butterflies . Usually you will see the caterpillars, otherwise you will see the holes they make in the leaves.

They will also pierce the heart of the cabbages.

Remedy: In mild attacks, or if you only have a few plants, you may be able to remove the caterpillars. An insect proof mesh or fine net (5-7mm mesh) can prevent egg laying.

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