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Kale and Collards

Kale And Collards
Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Annuals, Vegetables

These cool-season cabbage relatives (members of the genus Brassica) are grown for their leaves, which can be steamed, stirfried, sautéed, or added to soups. Curly-leafed kales (such as ‘Dwarf Blue Curled’ and ‘Dwarf Siberian’) form compact clusters of leaves that are tightly curled. ‘Toscano’ is a noncurly green kale, ‘Red Russian’ a noncurly red kale (its leaves are actually gray green with purple veins).

So-called flowering kale is similar to flowering cabbage, with brightly colored, decorative foliage; it too is edible and is sometimes sold in markets under the name “salad savoy.”

The type of kale known as collards is a large, smooth-leafed plant that does not form a head. Collard varieties include ‘Champion’, ‘Georgia’, and ‘Vates’.

Sow seeds in place and thin to 1 1/2 to 3 ft. apart; or set out transplants at the same spacing. Plant kale in late summer for a fall crop; in cool-summer areas, it can also be planted in early spring for a summer crop (intense sun in hotter climates makes leaves turn bitter). Plant collards in summer for fall and winter harvest; or plant in early spring for a spring-into-summer crop (collards are heat tolerant). Vigorous plants will grow 2 to 3 ft. high. For all types of kale and collards, harvest leaves by removing them from the outside of clusters; or harvest entire plant. Light frost sweetens flavor.

Both kale and collards are high in vitamins A and C, and in calcium.

Plants suffer far fewer pest and disease problems than most other crops in the cabbage family.

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