Allotment Crops in Season: Kale

This is a wonderful plant, it’s as tough as old boots when growing, and as tender as spinach when harvested! It can withstand the kind of temperatures we’ve got right now, ie freezing and then some, and it doesn’t have the pest problems that other brassicas do.

Sow kale seed in April to June in modules. Once the seedlings are established (say six to eight weeks, it’s a long process) you can move them to their final position, spacing them in rows about 45cm apart. The good news is that kale is much more forgiving than other brassicas and puts up with almost any soil that has reasonable drainage although it does best in a relatively sunny spot – this means you can stick it in where peas, early potatoes or other early summer crops have finished their work. Just remove any weeds and rake a small amount of fertiliser over the top. Not digging allows the roots to get nice and firm, which is what all brassicas like. Water during dry patches and keep weeded. It’s a good idea to walk heavily around the base of the stem every week to firm it, which stops larger varieties swaying and breaking their tiny roots. Most kale won’t need staking.

You can harvest from September for early varieties to May for late ones. The trick is, with curly kale, to start at the crown, cutting a few young leaves each time with sharp knife or a sharp downwards tug. This encourages the production of side shoots which can be harvested between February and May when they are 10 to 12cm long.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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