- Choose an area that has full sun The soil pH should be 6.5 to 6.8 to discourage club root disease, although the plants will grow fine in a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 if club root is not a problem in your garden.
- Growing Soil Temperature: 60-65ºF (16-18º)C.
- Watering: Heavy during growing season, then lighter after first frost.
- Enrich the soil with compost or well rotted manure.
- The flavor of kale will improve if the plants grow fast and quickly. Kale will also benefit from additional feedings of liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
- Set out transplants in spring 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost, for your spring harvest
- In late summer, for your fall harvest, you can begin planting kale 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost for fall and winter harvests, and continue planting throughout the fall in zones 8, 9, and 10.
- Kale grows best in full sun, but it is one of the few vegetables that will tolerate partial shade. Plants that receive fewer than 6 hours of sun daily will not be as stocky or leafy as those that get ample sun, but they will still be very edible!
- Thin kale seedlings to 8-12” apart.
- Kale is easy to transplant. Set plants at the depth they are growing in the container or slightly deeper.
- The leaves will grow bigger in ample space than if plants are crowded together, but smaller leaves tend to be the most tender.
- After planting, water the transplants well and apply a liquid fertilizer for Herb and Vegetables of 8-4-4 for excellent results. At this point you may need to be patient, because spring-planted kale may stay small until warmer soil temperatures trigger vigorous growth. Kale planted in late summer or early fall may sulk through spells of hot weather. Then, when conditions improve, the plants will take off, quickly multiplying in size.
- Kale likes a nice, even supply of water, about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. You can measure the amount of water with a rain gauge on a stake in the garden. Mulch with compost, finely ground leaves, weed-free hay, straw, pine needles, or finely ground bark to keep the soil cool and moist and to keep down weeds. Mulching will also help keep the leaves free of splashing soil for a clean harvest.
- Like collards, kale leaves are sweetest in the fall, after they’ve been hit by a light frost.
- Kale will produce new leaves all winter in zones 7 to 10. In climates where hard freezes are frequent, kale often survives winter with additional cold protection from thick mulch, row covers, or plastic tunnels. Over wintered plants promptly bolt, or produce yellow flowers in spring, signaling that it’s time to remove them and make room for other crops.
- Nutrient requirements: N= moderate, P= moderate, K= moderate.
- Rotation considerations: Avoid following cabbage family crops.
- Good companions: Bush Bean, beet, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onion and potato.
- Bad companions: Pole bean, tomato.
- To be sure, about your soil pH, test the soil with a do-it-yourself kit.
To be sure about pH, test the soil with a pH meter. Apply fertilizer and lime using the results of the soil test as a guide.
- Soil pH is a measurement of the number of Hydrogen ions present in the soil solution along with as the acidity of the soil. When the soil pH is too acidic the nutrients that are present in the soil become locked-up or unavailable (low pH) or alkaline (high pH).
- Correcting the pH has the same effect as applying fertilizer as it unlocks plant nutrients already present.
- In the garden some garden plants thrive in acidic soils while others prefer an alkaline soil.
- The acidity or alkalinity of soil is a measurement by pH (potential Hydrogen ions). pH is a way to measure the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil, and the type of soil that you have.
To Measure Soil pH
It is recommended that you use a relatively inexpensive, and follow the manufacturers instructions when testing the pH Level of your Gardens soil. To raise or lower the pH level in the soil either Limestone or Sulfur is utilized. Other materials will accomplish the same results; however the two that are listed are the most commonly used.
Limestone is added to the soil to raise the pH level because limestone is essentially calcium and calcium reacts with water in the soil to yield hydroxyl ions .. a process known as, hydrolysis = thus the pH level in the soil is raised.
Sulfur reacts with bacteria in the soil and produces sulfuric acid, which releases hydrogen ions thus causing the soil to become more acidic =the pH level is lowered.
Application Of Lime (To Raise Soil pH)
To increase your pH by 1.0 point and make your soil more alkaline.
- Add 4 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in sandy soils
- Add 8 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in loamy soils
- Add 12 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in clay soils
- Add 25 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in peaty soils
- The addition of ash, bone meal, or crushed oyster shells will also help to raise soil pH levels.
Application of Sulfur (To Lower Soil pH)
If your soil needs to be more acidic, sulfur will lower the pH if it is available.
To reduce the soil pH by 1.0 point
- Mix in 1.2 oz of ground rock sulfur per square yard if the soil is sandy
- Mix in 3.6 oz per square yard for all other soils.