Different Kale Varieties in the Garden
As part of the cabbage family, Kale is a more hardy, cool weather crop that typically grows best in the spring and the fall growing months. Which means growing kale in the summer is a benefit because most other vegetables cannot be planted during these months due to the harsh hot and dry temperatures. Travis explains that his favorite kale to grow in the vegetable garden is Toscano or sometimes referred to as Lacinato Kale. An Italian heirloom, Lacinato Kale is one of the most productive crops. This variety produces long, slender, blue-greenish leaves that have a slight crinkle to the foliage. This variety is great prepared in raw salads or also added into soups and sauteed vegetables. These kale varieties can either be direct seeded or transplanted. However, Travis prefers to transplant these different varieties due to quicker germination and consistent plant spacing in the garden. We offer other kale, colored varieties such as Blue Knight, Red Russian, and Scarlet Kale. The Blue Knight is a hybrid variety that has increased productivity with a deeper blue coloration. With a crisp and crinkled appearance, this variety works great in raw kale salad mixtures. The Red Russian has purple veins that become darker in colder temperatures. These leaves contain a thinner leaf that can be more tender than most other kale varieties. Scarlet has a darker red color blend with blue-green coloration in the center of the leaf that becomes stronger in colder temperatures as well. This variety contains many antioxidants and vitamins that are full of nutrients. All of these varieties are cold-tolerant and are bolt resistant which makes them perfect to grow on into the summer months.
Harvesting & Growing Kale
On this week’s episode, Travis talks about how to properly harvest kale so you can get a repeat harvest throughout the spring and into the summer months in the garden. Plants that are planted in the early spring like lettuce and other greens should be harvested or they will bolt once it becomes hotter temperatures. However, Kale is an exception to these other crops because we can plant it in the early spring and it will continue to grow into the summer. Another benefit of growing kale is it typically will not bolt and has multiple harvesting times. When harvesting different kale varieties it is best to pull the stalks down instead of up. If you pull up on the leaves when harvesting you will risk uprooting the kale plant. So it is better to harvest the bottom leaves of the kale that way the plant can continue to photosynthesize and grow. Leaving at least four or five leaves at the top will help ensure over time the stalks will continue to produce leaves. Sometimes they will get two or three inches tall as you continue to harvest the kale throughout the growing season. Travis recommends using plastic produce bags like at the grocery store to store away bunches of kale. Just put a few bunches of kale leaves in the bag then poke a few holes for ventilation and store away in the fridge for up to a week. After multiple harvests, plants can resemble mini palm trees with stalks that continue to grow upward and produce new leaves. These stalks can sometimes reach up to four or five inches tall. There are many benefits to growing kale but the biggest advantage is growing these varieties in the early spring and up into the summer months allows for harvesting vegetable crops when many other vegetables cannot be grown during these summer months.