Kale is a popular vegetable — rich in vitamins and minerals


Kale is a popular vegetable which is low in calories and it is rich in vitamins and minerals. One serving can give you 200 percent of your daily Vitamin C.

Kale, Brassica oleracea, is a cultivar of the cabbage plant. Kale originates from eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It may also be referred to as leaf cabbage. Cabbage plants form heads where a kale plants do not; it is grown for its edible leaves.  

Depending on the cultivar leaf size, color (colors can range from light green to green, to dark green, and purple) and texture can vary. Kale is classified by its leaf type which include: Curly-leaf, Bumpy-leaf, Plain-leaf, and Leaf and spear.

Kale is a cool season crop. It grows best in full sun to part shade. It can been grown during the early spring and mid- summer (plant six weeks before first frost date for an autumn harvest). Kale requires soil that is well drained. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost before you sow the seeds or after it is growing.

Kale is a heavy feeder. Apply a fertilizer containing low nitrogen, moderate potassium, and moderate phosphorus. Fertilization will aid the plant’s good color and tenderness.

This plant requires moderately watering. To conserve moisture, keep the soil cool, and prevent weed growth add mulch such as straw. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer around the plant.

Harvest the kale for baby greens 20 to 30 days after seeding, and pick mature leaves 50 to 75 days after seeding. For sweeter tasting leaves wait to harvest until a frost or during cold weather. Pick big outer leaves first, this will help the center to continue to grow.

Tender young leaves are great for adding to salads. Mature larger leaves are best steamed, sautéed, or cooked like cabbage. Fresh greens can be stored in a refrigerator up to one week. One can also freeze the young, tender kale leaves.

Wash and remove woody stems. Water blanch for two minutes. Cool, drain and package. Then seal and place in freezer.  

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County Master Gardener Volunteers are growing two different types of kale in the Extension’s Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens, Kale Prizm F1 and Kale Winterbor.

The Kale Prizm F1 is growing in the “Get Social” All-America Selections Brick Garden. This is a 2016 All-America Selections Vegetable Award Winner. It grows upright to 15 inches high. The leaves are classified as curly, ruffle-edged leaves and green in color. Leaves are 3- to 4-inches long. This plant can be grown in containers. A nice plant for multiple harvests, it will releaf after leave is picked. 

The plants tender, nutty flavored fresh leaves gives it excellent taste. The Kale Prizm F1 can be added to fresh salads and/or cooked.  

Another variety of kale that we have growing is the ‘Winterbor’. This kale is found in our Root & Kale Cornell Vegetable Varieties Climate Smart Vegetable bed. This variety is an excellent early- spring or late-fall plant. It is one of the most winter hardy kales. 

The ‘Winterbor’ kale grows 2 to 3 feet tall by 12 to 16 inches in diameter. The leaves are blue-green in color and are well-curled, and ruffled. This plant has a hardy flavor.

Come and visit the Extension’s Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens and Woodland Trail. Opened 7 days a week from dawn to dust free of charge. The gardens are located at 121 Second St. in Whitestown.


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