Kale is not known for its delicious taste. Instead, its claim to fame is its nutrition But did you know that kale tastes MUCH better in the fall and winter? This post will tell you why growing kale in the fall and winter is better.
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If you would like to learn more about the superfood kale, you can start by reading this article I wrote about the 3 different types of kale.
Kale planted in the spring will come to maturity in the summer. Summertime temperatures make kale plants grow strong and healthy. But the heat of summertime doesn’t help kales taste. In fact, heat makes it taste quite bitter and almost leaf-like.
Growing Kale in the fall
But there is a way around the bad taste of kale, and it all has to do with when you plant it. It turns out that frost and cold temperatures really improve the taste of kale. So growing kale in the fall and winter will let it mature as the weather cools you will have much better tasting kale. Growing Kale in the fall and winter begins by planting it in late summer (July and August) and early fall (September and very early October).
The starches in the leaf of the kale are turned to sugars as the freezing temperatures hit. After several nights of frost, the taste will improve dramatically. But if you want the best-tasting kale ever then you need to build yourself a simple hoop house to protect your kale into the winter. Kale is a very hardy plant and will survive really well with night time temperatures down into the mid ’20s.
Use a Hoop House
But at some point (for many of us in the colder climates) even hardy kale can’t hold out against the cold. But if you add a simple hoop house over your kale, it will protect it as the temperatures get colder. And if you live somewhere where the temps get really cold (below 10-15 degrees) you can even add a layer of heavy fabric row cover inside your hoop house to make it last longer. This combination should allow your kale plants to overwinter and give you a great harvest of sweet, tasty kale all winter long. I know of folks that live in zones as cold as Zone 4a that can overwinter kale this way. And I suspect that even those of you in colder zones can still pull it off!!
For those of you growing kale in the fall, that live in zone 7 and above you don’t really need a hoop house to protect your kale. All you really need is some heavy fabric row cover to protect your plants on those few nights when the temperatures drop below 25 degrees (-4 Celsius). In fact, there have been a few mild winters in my Zone 6a garden where all I have needed is some fabric row cover.
Trust me on this one you have got to try this. Growing Kale in the fall and winter is so much better, it is a totally different plant. Try this garden trick and you may end up liking kale after all!