(Brassica oleracea) Lacinato Kale is an old Italian heirloom known by many names, including dinosaur kale, Tuscan or Nero di Toscana, black cabbage, or black palm tree kale.
The leaves have a dark blue-green sheen to them that are almost reptilian in texture. The flavor is sweet and tender when harvested young and becomes even sweeter after a frost.
A cold-hardy variety that makes an excellent crop for both spring and fall.
Perfect for salads, soups and stews. Delicious sautéed with olive oil as well. Our favorite variety to use for kale chips.
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Start indoors 6 weeks before last frost and transplant out when 3” tall, 2 weeks before last frost. Plant outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked, very frost tolerant. Sow 1⁄4-1⁄2” deep, 1” apart in rows 18-30” apart. Thin seedlings to 8-12” apart. Kale germinates easily in cool or warm soil temperatures with even moisture.
Choose an area with full to partial sun and a soil pH of 6.0-7.0. Enrich the soil with compost or well-aged manure. Flavor of kale is improved if the plants grow quickly and can also improve after a light frost. Kale benefits from additional feedings of liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Cabbage worms and loopers on kale (white and yellow butterflies) can be decreased with the use of row covers to block out all insects including root maggots, aphids and Diamondback moths. Maintaining a soil pH of 6.8 and higher will discourage club root.
Fungal and bacteria diseases on kale such as head rot and downy mildew can be prevented by allowing good air circulation and avoiding a mid August maturity when the air humidity is higher. Strong healthy kale growing in an organically rich soil will be better able to fight disease.
Kale leaves can be harvested at any time. Always harvest the older, larger leaves that are closest to the bottom of the stalk, and be sure to take each leaf with the stem. The plant will continue to produce new leaves from the top as it grows taller. Harvesting regularly also helps reduce pest issues because it disrupts the area where they are attempting to take up residence.