Hamilton College Community Farm

Plant: Kale

Family: Brassica

Seed Varieties Dates to Maturity:
  • Winterbor - This is the standard variety of kale found in the grocery store. With a dusty green color and frilled leaves of approximately 5 to 7 inches, it has a subtle flavor and a nice texture.
  • Red Russian - This variety has a distinctive purple tint to its leaves and stems. It has longer stems and larger, less frilly leaves than winterbor kale. It is very tender and milder.
  • Lacinato -This is an heirloom variety often called dinosaur kale because of the almost scaly texture of the leaves.
Indoor Start Date and Cell Size:

Spring Planting- 3/20 in open 200s

Fall Planting-6/15 in open 200s

Greenhouse Transplant Date and Cell Size:

Transplant two weeks after planting into 38s.

Outdoor Transplant Date and Bed Specifications:

Can be planted outside as soon as soil can be worked (early April). One month after initial planting (two weeks after transplant). The seedlings can be transplanted earlier during the summer when they grow more quickly. Space plants every foot with four rows per bed.

Planting Tips:

When transplanting outside, bury plant up to first true leaves. This will cover the cotyledens, but will save the plant energy. Otherwise, the weight of the leaves will cause the seedling to fall over, and while it will still grow, it will waste time and energy.

Plant Needs:

It is easy to let the weeds take over all the brassicas while busy with the rest of spring planting – try and stay on top of them early on – when the plants get bigger they will shade out the weeds and will produce bigger leaves without the competition.

Cultivation Techniques:

Stirrup or collinear hoes work great early on – at some point you will need to switch to hand weeding when the plants are too big to hoe around.

Pests and Pest Control:

Early on flea beetles can be trouble. Another problem is the imported cabbageworm moth: a white moth that lays eggs on the brassicas and hatch little green ‘loopers’ – caterpillars. Using row cover until it gets too hot is the best way to prevent these pests– but do not forget to check on the state of the weeds under the cover!

Harvest Techniques:

By hand or very carefully with a red harvest knife, break off largest leaves at the base of the stem starting with leaves on the outside. Be careful of the new growth in the center – new leaves will keep shooting up. Bunch (about 10 leaves) and rubber-band, then use a knife to trim the base up, leaving enough stem so that the bunches stay together. (Winterbor should not be trimmed, as it has short stems that hardly stay bunched untrimmed.)


As usual, harvest early and cool quickly. Wash and store in a perforated bag in a lug.


Sold as a bunch: 2.50/ea or two for 4.00.


Kale Lasagna

10 kale leaves
2 zucchini
1 cup broccoli
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 green pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 container fat-free ricotta cheese
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
1 jar pasta sauce
2 cups mushrooms
1 package shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375°. Steam the kale, zucchini, and broccoli. Set aside.While vegetables are steaming, saute´ onion, garlic, and pepper in olive oil until tender. Mix with ricotta cheese and set aside.
In a 9x13-inch baking pan begin assembling the lasagna. Start with a noodle layer, spread the cheese mixture over this, then layer the steamed kale on top, followed by pasta sauce, then mushrooms, another noodle layer, another cheese layer, sauce, and then zucchini. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top, finishing off with the broccoli. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and bake another 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.