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Ornamental Kale

Brassica oleracea. Prized in fall garden borders, window boxes and containers, Ornamental Kale is a hardy decorative annual that can last all winter in temperate climates. It may be brought indoors for lavish harvest tables or even prepared for dinner itself! Growing to about 12" in diameter, our Ornamental Kale has flouncy, ruffled green foliage with contrasting centers. Performing best in cool weather, Ornamental Kale seed should be started indoors in mid summer for fall and winter use outdoors when its contrasting colors will develop as temperatures dip. Hardy Annual. Fall to winter flowering. Height: 10" to 12".

Average seed life: 3 years.

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Gardening Tips

Kale Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”-1/2"
Row Spacing: 18”-24”
Seed Spacing: 2”-4”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-75°F

This leafy member of the Brassica family prefers cool weather for optimal growth. Start Kale in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked or in late summer for fall and winter harvest. You can grow Kale in partial shade as long as it gets at least 4 hours of mid-day sunlight. When growing as individuals, thin to 12" to 16" apart. Or, broadcast seed to harvest in the “cut and come again” method. Kale prefers well-draining, moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or wellrotted manure. Seedlings thrive in evenly moist soil and enjoy occasional supplemental feedings of organic fertilizer. Hardy and pest-resistant, Kale becomes more tender and sweet after being kissed by frost. Harvest large leaves by cutting them at the base, leaving the plant to keep producing. Harvest as “cut and come again” greens when plants reach a height between 3" to 6".

A Boost For Brassicas
Kale and other leafy Brassica crops such as Cabbage, Broccoli, Arugula and Tatsoi all benefit from an extra dose of nitrogen. Forgo the chemical sources and look for what nature has put together for you. Aflalfa meal, blood meal, crab meal, soybean meal and cottonseed meal - these are all great nitrogen sources. The best time to give the crops their dose of "Vitamin N" is in early spring, at planting time. Follow the directions on the bag for the correct amount and work the product into the top 3" to 4" of soil. Then, put in your transplants or seeds and water thoroughly. Healthy, dark green leaves will be your report card and your reward.

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

Everyone's Delicious Darling: Kale

Shade Tolerance
Ornamental Kale Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
Seed Spacing:6”-8”
Plant Spacing:12”-15”
Days to Germination:10-14 days
Germination Temperature:65°-75°F

Brassica oleracea. Prized for its decorative foliage, Ornamental Kale performs best in cool weather. Start it indoors in mid summer so that mature plants will be ready for fall and winter display in seasonal containers and garden borders. Sow in seed starting mix in small peat pots or flats. Provide even moisture, good air circulation and strong light. Once plants have 4 true leaves, transplant into 10" pots or to a temporary garden with rich, organic soil and afternoon shade. Excessive heat can cause enlongated stems. Water frequently. Feed as necessary with liquid organic fertilizer. Use floating row covers for insect protection. Ornamental Kale may not develop its unique magenta-pink or white accent colors until temperatures dip in the fall. Remove lower leaves as they fade. Fall to winter flowering. Height: 10" to 12".