cutting back kale?

spinachqueen(z6NC)February 28, 2011

My kale overwintered in raised beds. My question is should I cut back the leaves that are tough from being on during the winter and wait for new growth. I've heard that kale will put on new growth early spring then bolt. I plan to turn it under before planting vegetables for early summer.

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I would not cut back anything. Old leaves will eventually yellow and drop of their own accord. While they are still green they are feeding the plant. If a leaf is yellow or otherwise in poor condition try pushing it downwards at the end where the leaf stalk joins the main stem. If it snaps off without effort remove it. If it resists leave it alone - it is still doing its work. Cutting leaves off will just leave a nub to rot. Clear up any dropped leaves from the ground and weed around the plants to help prevent pests and diseases from hanging around on the soil.

The centre of the plant will begin to elongate which shows it is starting to bolt. If you keep picking from the centre you can postpone this a while longer.

Kale stems can be like small tree trunks by the time the plants are finished. If you turn them under (a difficult job unless you have machinery) you will find they take forever to decompose. It's like tilling in pieces of wood. I would recommend you pull the plants and to bash the stems up before they go on the compost heap.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 3:27AM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

I know someone who's had the same kale plants going for a few years.
He swears it just keeps getting better! I'm going to try, growing it in my 'biologically diverse perennial community', aka ex-lawn weedpatch.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:45AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I grow Winterbor. When the spring flush starts, old leaves yellow and drop off and the spring flush comes from the node where the old leaf met the stem. Eventually a little head, like a small broccoli, will form on the flushes. You can snap the flushes off at any time to use them--before the head forms or after, and you can use the entire thing--little stems and all. You'll get a lot of very early greens.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 6:26AM
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dgbeig(SanFran -z10)

I have kale that overwintered and is healthy but with very small leaves.
I've put out new kale (our climate is pretty mild) and it too is puny.

Any ideas why the kale isn't getting to be like those huge leaves in the market? Not that I want those, but mine could be a little bigger.

I fertilized, but lightly. Could that be the culprit?

It's dinosaur kale and the leaves have been changing color since november.....very cool!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 3:09PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

The leaves get bigger as the plant grows, later in the season.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:50PM
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spinachqueen(z6NC)

Thanks for the advice. I'll just sit back and watch it grow. There is red russian, white russian, and camden kale . So far the camden kale wins by a long shot for wintering over with no cover in zone 5/6.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:02AM
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taffyben(Upper Michigan)

this is a bit off subject but can you take kale you bought at the store put it's stem in the water and will it root to grow in the house for the winter?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:07PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I imagine that what you buy in the store is leaves. In which case the leaf stalk (petiole) won't grow roots.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:40PM
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stuffradio

You shouldn't have to turn it over if you want Kale. This Kale plant i have is going into its third year next year. It went to seed once already, but it's still growing a bunch of new Kale on different stems! I just abuse this Kale by picking whenever I want, or cutting back, whatever. It is a strong plant. I am growing Lacinato Kale.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:33PM
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