Scientists say kale descends from wild cabbage, a plant found primarily on the lime cliffs of coastal Europe. Originating in Greece, kale was enjoyed for thousands of years throughout Europe where it was the most common green vegetable until the Middle Ages when cabbage became more popular.
One cup provides more Vitamin C than a glass of orange juice, more calcium than a cup of milk, more potassium than a banana and, per calorie, more iron than beef. Kale may be used in textured salads, steamed or braised as a side dish, mixed in omelettes, lasagna and stews, and made into chips.
Culture: Start indoors March-May for setting out May-July, or direct-seed in May. Minimum germination soil temperature 40°, optimal range 45-85°. To enjoy it at its best and to avoid the worst of the flea beetle season, direct seed in July or August for late-season maturity. Use wire hoops and row cover to keep flea beetles out at early stages. Important crop in colder climates owing to its natural resistance to frost, kale is sweeter after exposure to cold. Excellent microgreens.
Days to maturity are from seedling emergence. Subtract 20 days for transplants.
Note: because of a rule issued by Oregon, we cannot ship brassica packets larger than ½ oz. (14 grams) into the Willamette Valley, except those that have tested negative for Black Leg and Black Rot. Check descriptions for information.
Culture: Start brassicas indoors March-May for setting out May-July, or direct-seed in May, or in June for fall crop. Minimum germination soil temperature 40°, optimal range 55–85°. They need 60s during seedling stage for optimal growth; higher temperatures make seedlings leggy. Easier grown for the fall because many varieties perform poorly in hot summers. For better stands in dry conditions, sow in trenches and keep irrigated. Wire hoops and row cover should be used at early stages to keep out flea beetles and swede midge.
- BL: Blackleg
- BR: Black Rot
- BS: Bacterial Speck
- DM: Downy Mildew
- FW: Fusarium Wilt
- FY: Fusarium Yellows
- TB: Tipburn
- WR: White Rust
Pest and Disease Remedies for all Brassicas
Major pests: Cabbage Looper, Diamondback Moth, Imported Cabbageworm
Cultural controls: control cabbage-family weeds near crop fields, till under crop debris of early-season brassicas after harvest.
Material controls: Spinosad, Bt.
Pest: Flea Beetle
Cultural controls: floating row covers, mulch with straw, time plantings for fall harvested crops only, crop rotation, perimeter trap cropping.
Material controls: AzaMax, Spinosad, PyGanic.
Pest: Cabbage Root Maggot
Cultural controls: time planting to avoid first hatching, use row covers, control weeds.
Major diseases: Black Rot, Alternaria Leaf Spot, Blackleg, Club Root, Downy Mildew, White Mold
Cultural controls: avoid transplanting plants with yellow leaves or v-shaped lesions, crop rotation, destroy crop debris after harvest, avoid overhead irrigation, control weeds, allow for good air movement.
Material controls: Copper.
Swede Midge—not as cute as it sounds!
Alert! Heading brassicas in the Northeast are seeing consistent damage from swede midge, a tiny gall midge. Its effects result in a non-heading plant. Wire hoops and row cover at early stages of heading brassica crops are becoming crucial for success. Some research also suggests garlic sprays as a possible organic repellent. Consult your Cooperative Extension resources for further information.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.