Kale crop sheet

Activity

Curly kale is gaining popularity as a vegetable crop. It is easy to grow from seed from March to May and is harvested during the coldest months of the year.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn that plants are the source of many foods
  • Understand what plants need to grow
  • Practise seed sowing and other horticultural techniques

Preparation

Kale grows well on any soil but prefers well compacted, fertile loam. One way to achieve this is to follow directly on from another crop that has just been harvested (not another brassica).

Equipment

  • Kale seeds
  • Compost
  • Seed trays or modules
  • Trowel
  • Measuring stick
  • Watering can
  • Brassica collars
  • Netting and posts (optional)

Step by step

  1. Sow seed in seed trays (which will need pricking out) or modules from March to May. These can be placed in a cold frame or cool windowsill.
  2. Water regularly and ensure that slugs and snails don't eat the young leaves. If the seedlings are being grown indoors gradually harden them off before planting outside.
  3. When the seedlings have 5-6 true leaves they are ready to plant out. Make holes 38-45cm apart and in rows 45-50 cm apart.
  4. Ensure the first true leaves are level with the soil and use brassica collars to keep away cabbage root fly (pest).
  5. Water the plants in well and continue to do so throughout the growing season. Pigeons may be interested in your kale crop, so they may need to be netted to keep them away.
  6. Harvest kale from November to April. Always pick the young leaves as they are the most tender.

Hints & tips

  • Always remove any flower shoots that appear on your kale
  • Larger kale plants may need to be staked to prevent 'wind rock' or plant dwarf varieties in exposed areas

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