Kale is a cool-season crop, that is a member of the cabbage family and a healthy leafy green vegetable. It is one of the most popular and nutritious vegetables around the world, and its popularity is steadily increasing in India. The Scientific name of Kale is Brassica oleracea; it belongs to the same species of Cabbage, Broccoli, and Cauliflower, but it does not form any heads.
Nutrition value of Kale:
Kale is one of the best low-calorie foods, loaded with vitamin and minerals. It is high in Vitamin K and Manganese. Kale is also a source of the carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. Boiling kale decreases the level of glucosinolate compounds, whereas steaming, microwaving or stir-frying does not result in significant loss.
Kale growing season in India:
Kale likes dry and cold climate. In India, it can be grown during winter. Seeds are sown in October-November.
Kale growing methods:
There are two methods of growing Kale by seeds. You can directly sow the seeds right into the garden soil or can start the seeds indoors in seedling trays and transplant the seedlings later in the soil.
1. Direct sowing method:
You need loose, well-drained soil to grow Kale. Make even rows 18 inches apart, and direct sow your seeds about 0.5 cm deep. Cover your seeds with soil and water them well to settle the soil around the seeds.
Once the Kale seedlings emerge, thin them to be 18 inches apart. i.e., remove the extra crowded seedlings.
2. Transplantation method:
Sow the seeds in seedling trays filled with seed starting mixture like the organic veggie mix. Sow 2 seeds in each cell. Transplant seedlings after 5-6 weeks. To plant, dig a hole in the soil about twice the size of a rootball. Place the rootball even with the soil level and backfill the soil.
When you have started your plants indoors, you slowly acclimate them to outdoors. Hardening is done to Kale seedlings by exposing them to more and more sunlight every day, eventually transplanting them into the soil.
Growing Kale in a container:
Kale can be grown perfectly well in pots and container. A single plant can be grown in 12-14 inch round pot. Use good quality potting soil mix to grow Kale in pots.
1. Watering Kale plant:
It should be watered 2-3 times a week during cold days, and once a day during the hot sunny day.
2. Sunlight requirement of Kale:
Although Kale can be grown in full sun (8 hours) it can also grow well in partial sun (4 hours).
3. Fertilizers for Kale:
Since Kale is a leafy green, you need a fertilizer which is high in nitrogen. You can use all-purpose organic fertilizers like cow manure. Mix the organic manure in the soil before planting.
4. Kale plant protection:
Kale plant may get affected by caterpillars. You will have to handpick the caterpillars and shake the plant vigorously to remove any other.
Later in the warm season, Aphids may show up on leaves. Wash down the leaves with a water hose to make aphids go away, and get rid of the extra leaves.
5. Harvesting Kale:
Once a Kale plant grows pretty large, you can get an abundant harvest from just a few Kale plants. Make sure that you do not harvest from the top part of the plant. You should pick mature Kale leaves from the periphery by cutting them off from the base.
Different varieties of kale:
- Curly Kale
- Lacinato Kale
- Red Russian
- Redbore Kale