How to plant kale
Begin with kale seeds or kale plants – seeds are cheaper and grow easily. Sow seeds 2 inches apart in rows 30 to 45 centimetres apart, choosing a spot that is nice and sunny. Cover them with 1-1.5 centimetres of soil, and keep it evenly moist (but not soaking wet) for best germination. You can start seeds indoors in late winter then transplant the seedlings into the garden, or sow them directly in the ground in early spring, about 3 weeks before the last frost, and again in late summer, 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost.
If you start with kale plants, place them in the ground at the same depth as their roots were growing in the pot, spacing them 45 to 60 centimetres apart.
Mulch with organic materials such as bark, shredded leaves, compost, or cocoa bean hulls to retain soil moisture and keep weeds at bay.
When the plants have six to eight leaves, use scissors to cut off just the outer leaves, leaving at least four leaves in the centre to produce more leaves. Kale leaves actually taste sweeter after they've been through a light frost, most will continue to grow through the winter in milder climates.
After buying or harvesting kale, it's always best to place it in a plastic storage bag. Push out as much air from the bag as possible. Exposure to water encourages spoilage, so wait to wash the kale leaves until just before you use them. Kale keeps in a refrigerator for about five days; after that, the leaves become bitter. Immediately before using, rinse kale leaves under warm running water and gently rub the leaves to tenderise them.
Pull out the plants when they begin blooming. At this point, leaves begin to taste tough and bitter.
Kale is relatively pest-free, but if you have cabbage caterpillars, which can chew up your crop, try an organic garden spray, or just pick them off by hand, a more organic practice.
This article originally appeared on Better Homes and Gardens US.