Harvest kale, a flavorful vegetable plant that is easy to grow and pick, in a proper and conservative way by picking the leaves at the right time and using the proper tools. Kale is nutritious and can be used in different dishes, where you can consume it either in its fresh or cooked form.
To continue enjoying the taste and nutritional acumen of kale, this article will provide you with tips and tricks for harvesting it.
How to Harvest Kale So It Keeps Growing
Knowing the proper time to harvest and using the correct tools are essential steps to harvesting kale.
Harvesting kale leaves is easy as you can do it without tools; you can even harvest kale using your fingers. The most important thing you need to know is the proper timing to harvest this healthy plant. Kale leaves can be harvested throughout the year. Kale can produce edible fruits, but that’s not the end of this plant’s life.
– Picking Premature
You need to start harvesting kale leaves when the plant is at least one month old. By this time, the length of the leaves should be around two to three inches or be almost the same as your palm. Kale leaves are tasty and soft at this stage. This explains why harvesting the leaves young is best if you want to consume them raw in salads and other meals.
Cut kale from garden with sharp shears or a knife that has been disinfected so that you leave a clean cut. You can also harvest purple kale by snipping the leaves off the stem along the base of the plant using your bare hands. Be careful not to cut the roots, new growth, or stem of the plant, otherwise, you would shorten your harvest period.
To continue enjoying young kale leaves, keep on trimming them, leaving a few new growths. If you stop harvesting kale for long periods of time, the leaves will slowly start to lose their chlorophyll, die, and finally fall off the plant. When harvesting kale leaves, make it a norm to cut them one at a time so that the risk of stressing the plant is reduced.
– Harvesting Mature
Harvest kale leaves when your plant is at least two months old to get mature leaves. The mature kale leaves are best served cooked as they are a bit tough. Adding them to your stews and soups would be great! You can also make kale chips by putting oil-tossed leaves in the oven at a low-temperature setting and allowing them to become crispy.
Surprisingly, the flavor of kale improves as the plant’s leaves grow older. The mature kale leaves are found at the base of the plant stem. The older leaves should be harvested first going upward, where the relatively younger ones are. Always remember not to pick smaller leaves and buds so that your plant will continue to produce new foliage.
Harvest curly kale frequently, such as after every five to seven days, to stimulate the growth of new leaves. Do not allow the leaves to die on the plant as they will be taking nutrients that are supposed to be used for new growth.
Remove dead and yellow leaves, if any, when you are harvesting kale. You need to harvest old and fresh leaves when picking kale from garden but do not overdo this so that you ensure a continuous supply of the plant foliage.
How To Store Kale
Using a refrigerator or blanching and freezing are two effective ways to store kale for future use. There are two methods you can use to keep your kale leaves fresh. We will explore these in this section.
– Short-Term Storing Method
Harvest your kale and store it in the refrigerator for you to keep enjoying its benefits during the fall season. Cut kale from the garden first and wash the leaves with tap water before placing them in the fridge.
Dry the kale leaves with paper towels or using a salad spinner and then remove the stems if you don’t like them. Put all your bunch of vegetables in a plastic bag with a paper towel inside so that your kale will not be soaked in moisture and start to decay.
You can now put your sealed bag in the refrigerator. Be sure to use the refrigerated kale within two weeks after harvesting, but they can stay good for up to six weeks if you store them chopped. So to increase the lifespan of your kale leaves, simply cut the leaves into pieces prior to refrigerating. Put your kale in a plastic bag, release air, and freeze it.
If you are unable to finish your kale leaves within the stipulated storage time, they are more likely to become discolored. If this happens, remove the discolored leaves from the refrigerator and throw them away. Such kale leaves are no longer healthy to be consumed.
– Long-Term Storing Method
You can blanch and freeze the kale leaves for them to stay fresh and tasty for one year. To do this, wash and cut the kale leaves into small pieces. Put the leaves in a blanching basket and place them in boiling water for 2.5 minutes. After 2.5 minutes, remove the basket from the hot water and put it in ice water.
Remove the blanching basket from the ice water and drain any excess water. Using a salad spinner is quite effective in draining excess water. Separate your kale into portions of reasonable amounts that are enough for a meal so that you won’t struggle to try to separate just a little from the whole frozen kale. You can now put your kale portions in a plastic bag and freeze them.
Use your frozen kale leaves within the recommended time to enjoy their pleasant flavor and freshness. You will also get the full amount of the nutrients the kale plant contains while fresh if you use this method. Kale contains vitamin A, C and K, as well as antioxidants and minerals that are crucial to your body.
Other Important Information
Here are some answers to your burning questions about the kale plant.
– Will Kale Grow Back After Cutting?
Yes, kale leaves will grow back new leaves, enough for multiple harvests, if it is carefully harvested and located in a conducive environment for healthy growth. Remember to harvest the old leaves before moving on to the new leaves, and that your kale plant will need to be well-taken care of for the next batches of produce.
The kale plant is cold hardy and its leaves are tastier after the plant has experienced very cold or freezing conditions during the winter season. Kale grows well if it receives direct sunlight for a minimum period of six hours per day and when it’s grown in a temperature range of 40 F to 50 F.
Kale can reach a height of 3.3 feet if you take care of it properly. You should add organic fertilizer like manure to improve soil fertility prior to planting your kale if you want to harvest quality, healthy kale leaves.
Kale does well in well-draining soils that keep moisture for a long time. Also, the substrate for growing kale should have a relatively neutral pH of around 6.5.
– How Long Does a Kale Plant Last?
Being a biennial plant, kale plants have a two-year life cycle. To make sure that your kale plants produce a lot of leaves for harvesting, they have to be healthy and thriving. In order to ensure this, you have the very important role of providing a conducive environment for the plants to live in and thrive.
Here are some of the kale plant’s most common problems and what you can do to prevent them from happening:
– Prevent Cabbage Butterflies and Worms
Cabbage flies produce worms, which are the ones that eat all the leaves of your kale plant. The cabbage worms automatically become green in color as they feed on the leaves of your plant as they take the color of the leaf pigment.
The worms leave droppings on the kale foliage and that’s one of the signs of these pests’ existence as they are so tiny that they are difficult to identify with the naked eye.
Put sticky traps to catch the butterflies as a way of controlling these pests. The disadvantage that comes with using traps is that they also catch any insect that passes by, including the crucial ones.
You can also use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to kill worms by spraying it on the kale leaves. Bt is not poisonous to human beings and animals so this is a good product to use.
You can also use the natural methods of controlling pests by picking the cabbage worms and killing them manually. Have a bucket of soapy water where you can put the worms and they will die in it. You can also squash them with your foot as a way of destroying these pests.
– Prevent Leaf Spot
Leaf spot is a fungal infection that causes serious damage to the leaves of your kale. The kale leaves will turn brown, and if not attended to quickly, the plant will eventually die. It’s difficult to control fungal infectious diseases, so the best way is prevention. Avoid watering the leaves of the plant when irrigating to reduce the chances of infection.
You can also use fungicides like copper fungicidal spray to control the disease at an early stage, otherwise you will lose the plants. Remove and discard the affected kale to stop the spread of the disease to healthy ones. Also, make sure that you thoroughly clean the space where the affected plant was.
– Prevent Black Rot
Black rot causes brown, papery spots on your kale leaves. It can also cause the blackening of the plant stem. When these symptoms appear, your plant’s chances of survival are significantly reduced. Black spot is caused by high humidity conditions.
Practice crop rotation as a strategy for controlling pests. Also, make sure you remove all the debris from the previous season.
Now you have acquired all the necessary information that you need to harvest kale without shortening its life span. Before you go, quickly go through the main points we learned in the article that are listed below:
- The leaves of kale are best harvested soon after the winter seasons as they are tastier and more flavorful during this time.
- Harvesting kale plants can be done at any time.
- Young kale leaves can be harvested when they reach the same size as your palm.
- Harvest kale leaves using your fingers or small cutting tools like a knife.
- The kale plant produces leaves and fruits that are edible. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
Use the information that you learned above and become a genius in harvesting and storing kale. Get started now and enjoy this nutritious, delicious vegetable more often!
- 13 Plants With Pink and Green Leaves for a Pop of Color - January 30, 2023
- 15 Ground Cover Plants With Yellow Flowers for Your Garden - January 30, 2023
- 15 Plants With Maroon Leaves for a Contrasting Landscape - January 30, 2023