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Brassica oleracea
Late fall and winter

In Our Garden

Brassica oleracea

Ready for harvest in about 50 days, this variety has finely curled leaves and is magenta.

Red Russian
Brassica napus

Red Russian is a red-veined bunching variety of kale. Unlike other varieties, Red Russian retains sweetness and remains tender in warm weather, but also tolerates cold well. Its true glory is visible when the temperature drops and its red color increases in intensity.

In History

Kale was cultivated by both the ancient Greeks and Romans and is believed to have been brought to Britain by either the Celts or Romans. Many of the common varieties that we eat today are the same as those cultivated 2,000 years ago.


Growing Tips:
Kale is extremely robust, making it an ideal vegetable to grow in winter. The cold consistently enhances its sweetness.

Kale is an adaptable veggie that can grow in soils of poorer quality but avoid planting your kale in areas with potentially high nitrogen as it can produce soft leaves more susceptible to pest attacks. Give it a sunny spot with well-draining soil and it will truly shine.

Harvesting Tips:
Harvest young leaves from the bottom up, working up the stalk and leaving the new foliage at the top. This way you can keep harvesting for months from the same plants.

Why It's Good for You

With its deep green leaves and sturdy stalks, kale is loaded with a compound called xeathanthin, which has been shown to help prevent age-related loss of vision. It is a source of calcium and is rich in beta carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and lutein.

Let's Eat

How to Buy:
If you are purchasing young kale, choose those with a vibrant color that are wilt and bruise-free. More mature kale should have the same properties but also look for bunches with thick, sturdy leaves; these are great for braising.

How to Store:
Fresh kale should be used within a few days after purchasing. It keeps best refrigerated in a plastic bag, but is also fit for freezing.

How to Prepare:
Kale is a likely home to aphids so it is best to soak the vegetable in water before cooking it. Like chard, the fibrous stems of kale can take longer to cook and should be separated from the leaves prior to cooking. This is particularly important when using late season varieties. Young leaves are often tender enough that they can be sautéed whole.


Pest Management

Here is a list of common pests and diseases that may affect your kale in California. For more information follow the link provided to the University of California Integrated Pest Management website.
  • Aphids
    In the early 19th century, the Phylloxera aphid wiped out the grape production throughout Western Europe. Aphids are extremely prolific, producing upwards of 20 generations in one season. They live in dense populations, and when living situations become too stressed they can flee by growing wings…
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  • Cabbage looper
    Much like the cabbageworm, loopers are responsible for chewing irregular holes in the leaves of plants. They move by arching their backs as they crawl, and are distinguishable from the cabbageworm by their distinct looping locomotion…
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  • Cabbage maggot
    Below the soil, they tunnel through plant roots, creating passageways for pathogens. These maggots are transmitters of bacterial soft spot and black leg…
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  • Diamondback moth
    The larvae prefer to feed on plants in the Brassica family, and on rare occasions cause serious damage. The introduction of natural predators, such as the parasitic wasp, can easily keep them under control…
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  • Flea beetle
    This leaf-jumper is double-trouble. The adults mainly feed on foliage while the larvae feed on stems and roots of tubers, exposing the plant to fungal infection.
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  • Halequin Bug
    A member of the stinkbug family, the Harlequin bug doesn’t clown around. It efficiently destroys crops by sucking fluids from the plant’s tissue…
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  • Imported cabbage worm
    Within a few days of sighting the mature white cabbage butterfly, you can expect to see damage from the hatched larvae. They chew irregular holes in foliage, leaving behind fecal matter…
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  • Spidermites
    These tiny arachnids can be hard to detect, and may go not even be noticed until they have left! They are a common pest to a wide range of vegetables and fruits, but have a taste for sugar peas. They suck the liquid out of plant foliage, and often leave yellowing at the feeding site. Most of the time plants will recover once the mites have left…
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  • Thrips
    Commonly found in gardens and on farms, thrips are a blessing and a burden. While their feeding can cause some scarring to leaves, flowers and fruit surfaces, the effect on overall crop yield is insignificant. Some varieties play a beneficial predatory role by feeding on other insects…
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  • Weevil
    It can be difficult to pinpoint the vegetable weevil as both the adults and larvae are largely active at night. They do not fly, preventing damage from occurring rapidly…
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