Spring best time to sow kale plants

March through May sow­ings will help pro­duce ro­bust leafy greens for the over-win­ter pe­riod

The Province - - HOMES - He­len Chesnut

QI’ve been try­ing to grow kale plants that will over-win­ter and give me a long har­vest sea­son. So far I’ve had no luck. The sum­mer sow­ings that were rec­om­mended for plants to over-win­ter have not worked for me. Is it bet­ter to plant kale in the spring?

A: My ex­pe­ri­ence with kale has been sim­i­lar to yours. In my gar­den, spring plant­ing works best for pro­duc­ing siz­able, ro­bust plants that over-win­ter well. Even though sum­mer sow­ings are of­ten rec­om­mended — and I pre­sume they work well in some gar­dens — they are min­i­mally suc­cess­ful in mine.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, kale sizes up best for fall, win­ter and spring har­vest­ing when sown di­rectly into the gar­den March through May. Later plant­ings may be sat­is­fac­tory if sturdy, well-sized trans­plants are used.

Kale can ac­tu­ally be sown out­doors from late win­ter through late sum­mer for young salad greens.

Every year, I grow five or more va­ri­eties to ob­serve and com­pare. Red Rus­sian and sim­i­larly red­dish-hued types have long been my favourites, but in the harsh win­ter of 201617 I was glad I’d grown a curly Scotch type. While other more ten­der and thin-skinned va­ri­eties went tem­po­rar­ily limp with the cold, the tougher leaves of the curly Scotch kale re­mained us­able. West Coast Seeds has a su­perbly ex­ten­sive se­lec­tion of kale va­ri­eties.

QSince I moved sev­eral years ago, my hoya plant has not flow­ered. It is grow­ing on top of a cabi­net sited against the far wall of a south-fac­ing room.

A: Hoyas have a rep­u­ta­tion for not re­spond­ing well to be­ing moved. Also, it is prob­a­ble that the plant needs more light. Hoyas do best with around four hours daily of di­rect sun­light, but with pro­tec­tion from di­rect, hot sum­mer sun. Hoyas are trop­i­cal plants re­quir­ing warmth (16 to 21 C) and min­i­mal wa­ter­ing in win­ter.

Con­sider tak­ing cut­tings in the spring for young plants to lo­cate where they’ll be ex­posed to some di­rect sun.

Red Rus­sian kale has long been a favourite of He­len Chesnut, but Scotch types are good dur­ing harsh win­ters.

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