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Not only is Kale a tasty vegetable with a long cropping season but it is a very attractive vegetable as well.

Many gardeners grow them in their borders purely for their ornamental value, especially over winter. Kale is resistant to most pests and diseases and grows in almost any site and position.

Types of Kale

Lacinato kale When you look in the seed catalogues for Kale you will see four main types. Curly-leaved kale is probably the most commonly grown and has leaves which look like parsley. A hardier type is the plain-leaved Kale which will survive even the harshest of weather. Rape Kale and the relative new comers Leaf and Spear. They are all treated the same although they crop at slightly different times of the year.

Site and Soil
There is an ideal soil and site for Kale but rest assured, it will grow in almost all conditions, even part shade and sandy soils will produce a reasonable crop. For the ultimate crop, grow in a soil that was enriched with compost or manure the previous season. Full sun is best but they will grow well in part shade.

Sowing Seed
With the exception of rape kale, sow the seeds in a seed bed around April to May time. The timing is not crucial because kale will germinate in temperatures as low as 5�C / 42�F and as high as 35�C / 95�F. That's an enormous range for any vegetable.

Sow the kale seeds about 1.5cm (�in) deep in rows which are 22cm (9in) apart. germination will take about 10 days. When the plant is about 22cm / 9in high and four leaves have developed (about 6 weeks after sowing) transplant them to their final positions. They should be planted slightly deeper than they grew in the seed bed. Spacings are 45cm / 18in apart with rows the same distance apart.

Rape kale should be sown slightly late in the season, May to June is a good time. Sow them directly in their final position because they do not like to be transplanted.

Care for Kale

Almost no care is required because these are one of the strongest and most disease resistant of all vegetables. Remove yellowing leaves which will appear round the base of plant. Keep the weeds under control with regular hoeing.

Dwarf varieties of kale (see curly / crinkly kale to the right) will withstand winter winds especially well.

Curly Kale

Harvesting Kale
Harvest kale only when you need it because it does not keep well even in the fridge. They provide a crop between late September to early May, although rape kale is at its best in spring.

Harvest the young leaves only which will be at the top of the plant. This will stimulate the plant to produce more young tender leaves.

Recommended Varieties
With so many types to choose from, the selection of particular varieties is one of personal choice. We recommend two below which we have enjoyed.

Cavolo Nero
We grew this one because it is often asked for in recipes. The leaves are highly crinkled, deep green and the plants look spectacular.

Dwarf Green Curled
This is a dwarf variety that grows strongly with little fear of damage from strong winds. It looks like parsley with deeply crinkled leaves. the cropping season is autumn to mid spring. Click here for our recommended online supplier of this variety.