Companion Plants for Kale | How to Plant and Grow Your Kale

It seems that everyone is obsessed with this leafy green superfood from kale smoothies and salads to kale chips and tacos. Kale is a delicious vegetable that’s packed with vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Even though you always see this vegetable in the supermarket, there’s something different about growing and planting your own kale. It tastes better, it’s free from harmful pesticides, and it’s more sustainable. 

If you’re planning to grow and harvest kale in your backyard, you need to know important factors, such as the different types of kale, companion plants for kale, and more. 

How to Plant and Grow Your Kale

Different Types of Kale and Its Benefits 

Kale is undeniably one of the healthiest and most nutritious green leafy vegetables. It contains vitamins A, K, C, and B6, as well as calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Kale can also help lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. It contains cancer-fighting nutrients like sulforaphane and an indole-3-carbine. 

If you’re looking to plant this superfood, it helps to know the different types of kale:

 

Curly Kale

Curly kales are the most recognizable type of kale, best known for its wavy leaves. We often see this type of kale served at restaurants or sold in supermarkets. It has a pale to deep green color and has large leaves with frilly edges and long stems. 

Just like other types of kale, curly kales have a high amount of essential nutrients and antioxidants, including potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and vitamin C that’s higher than the ones in oranges. 

 

Baby Kale

As the name suggests, baby kales come from a young kale plant. It looks and tastes like curly kale, except that it has smaller and thinner leaves. It’s also one of the most common types of kales people find it grocery stores. Its mild and delicate flavor makes it ideal for eating raw. 

Even though baby kales are smaller than other kales, they’re rich in vitamin C, A, and K1. They also contain calcium and iron, making them an ideal to include in your daily diet.

 

Premier Kale/Early Hanover

The leaves of primer kale are smooth and have scalloped edges. Premier kale is rich in antioxidants, including beta-carotene, a plant pigment found in fresh fruits and vegetables. This antioxidant improves cognitive function, promotes good skin health, reduces macular degeneration, and prevents cancer. 

Many people say that premier kale is the most flavorful type of kale. It’s used in different dishes, including fresh salads, sandwiches, and sautéed vegetables. Most people like to eat it raw because premier kales are not as tough as other kale types. 

 

Walking Stick Kale

You can easily identify walking stick kale because of its height. Unlike other kales, walking stick kales can grow over six feet tall! Also, it isn’t called walking stick kale for no reason. You can actually use it as a walking stick by properly drying its long stem, laminate it, and then use it as a cane. 

While walking stick kales are impressively tall, growing this type of kale requires more care and attention than other types. The ideal overall climate has to be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the soil must be drained well, and there should be layers of organic compost. 

 

Redbor Kale

Redbor kale is not only delicious to eat, but it’s also beautiful to look at. This type of kale can be both an ornamental plant and a vegetable plant. It has a deep red color with dark purple undertones, and it has curly and frilly leaves. 

This type of kale is usually grown in gardens because of its ornamental value. During cold weather, the reddish leaves turn to violet. Its deep hues make an incredible plate décor. 

Aside from its beauty, redbor kale is also a great source of essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, proteins, and magnesium. It also contains an important antioxidant called ALA (alpha-lipoic acid) that can help lower blood sugar levels and improve heart health. This can significantly benefit people with diabetes and heart problems. 

 

Red Russian Kale

This type of kale is known for its unique flavor that many people describe as sweet and tender with a peppery kick. This unique combination makes red Russian kale one of the sweetest kales, especially after frost. It’s delicious eaten raw, tossed in salads, and blended with other fruits and veggies. 

Just like other varieties, the red Russian kale is rich in vitamins and minerals. It even contains higher amounts of nutrients compared to other kales. It also improves bone health since this type of kale is exceptionally high in calcium. 

 

Tronchuda Kale

This Portuguese kale is the least common type of kale. 

It has thick, soft leaves that are perfect for juices and smoothies. Tronchuda kales have large, flat, and rounded leaves that look like collard. Its fleshy stems are edible as well. Compared to other kales, this one has a cabbage-like taste. 

This Portuguese kale is loaded with nutrients, plus it has a low-carb content, making it a perfect superfood. This kale may not be as common as curly kales or baby kales, but it’s a great plant with heat-tolerant properties. It’s relatively easy to grow as well

 

Chinese Kale

Chinese kale, also known as Chinese broccoli, is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. This type of kale has a thick, flat, blue-green color with small flower heads that look similar to broccoli. Additionally, Chinese kale tastes just like broccoli. However, Chinese kale has a slightly bitter and stronger flavor than broccoli. AS a result, you’ll find many recipes substituting Chinese kale with broccoli. 

This kale variant is also rich in nutrients like vitamins A, vitamins C, iron, and calcium. Because of its strong taste, most people pair Chinese kale in sweetened sauces. 

 

Lacinto Kale

Also called Tuscan kale and dinosaur kale, lacinto kale is the second most popular type of kale. You’ll most likely find it in the vegetable section in most supermarkets. Lacinto kales have long, dark gray leaves that look aesthetically pleasing when you grow them in your backyard, whether in your garden or in a greenhouse. It has a dark color with a thin texture. Its bluish-green leaves are wrinkly, making them look nice when plated. 

 

Benefits of Companion Planting

If you’ve been planting for a long time, then you’ve probably heard of companion planting. 

Companion planting is a proven method of planting different crops near each other for various reasons, such as pollination, pest control, growth stimulation, habitat for helpful insects, and crop productivity. 

Some of the benefits of companion planting include the following:

 

Improve Soil Nutrients

Your crops take important nutrients from the soil to grow healthy. This is why gardeners take proactive steps to improve the soil’s nutrients. Companion plants like bush beans and pole beans can add nutrients, like nitrogen, back into the soil, ensuring that the surrounding plants grow healthy. 

 

Repel Pests

Pests like carrot flies, cabbage moths, cabbage worms, cucumber beetles, Mexican beetles, and other types of insects can harm your plants. You can plant companion plants around your crops to repel harmful pests.  

 

Attract Helpful Insects

While there are harmful pests, there are helpful insects as well. Pollinator bees and ladybugs can be beneficial when it comes to pollinating the crops. You can encourage these insects to visit by planting attractive flowers near your crops.

Provide Ground Cover

Some plants that spread low across the ground blankets over the soil. This protects the surrounding crops from too much heat, keeping it cooler for plants that prefer lower temperatures. Oregano, ferns, mondo grass, and creeping juniper are some examples of low-maintenance ground cover plants.

 

Markers

Rows of slow-growing plants may be hard to spot while you’re waiting for the seeds to sprout. When you plant fast-growing plants near slow-growing ones, you can separate and distinguish where the slow growers will be. 

 

Faster Growth and Better Taste

Some companion plants release chemicals that help hasten growth and or help crops taste better. 

 

Provide Shade

Tall and leafy companion plants can provide much-needed shade from the sun.

 

Companion Plants for Kale

Now that you know the importance of companion planting, you’ll need to know how to implement this method when planting kale. Be sure to avoid planting other brassicas near your kale, such as cauliflower, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and broccoli, because they may fall prey to the same pests and diseases. Here are some of the companion plants to plant near your kale:

 

Alliums

Chives, leeks, onions, and shallots are some examples of alliums. Planting them near kale will help repel common pests like cabbage loopers and aphids that munch on your kale leaves. 

 

Cilantro

 

People have mixed emotions when it comes to cilantro. But love it or hate it, cilantro is one of the best companion plants for kale. It attracts helpful insects like hoverflies that eat harmful pests like aphids. 

 

Legumes

Legumes like beans or bush beans can fertilize the soil around the kale by increasing the nitrogen content and helping your kale grow healthy and flavorful. 

 

Dill

Other than pickling, dill also makes an excellent companion plant for veggies, including kale. It helps attract pollinators that can aid in your plant’s growth, as well as beneficial insects that kill pests. Dill can also help protect your kale seedlings as they grow. 

 

Marigolds

Marigolds, sweet alyssum, and other flowers can attract hoverflies that eat aphids, harmful insects that can damage your kale plants. 

 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a ground cover plant that helps seal moisture in the soil and kills weeds that can hamper your kale’s growth. By planting it near your veggies, you can ensure that they grow in ideal conditions. Additionally, buckwheat attracts useful insects and enrich the soil with nitrogen. 

 

Catnip

Lastly, catnip is another great companion plant that can help different vegetables and flowers grow healthy. It protects your kale by repelling pests and attracting helpful insects. 

 

Growing Plants in Greenhouses

Planting in greenhouses is a great way to plant vegetables and flowers. Growing kale indoors means you don’t have to worry about the changing season and the erratic weather. By planting in greenhouses, you can ensure that your plants are protected from harsh weather conditions they usually face by being outdoors, such as wind, drought, heat, cold, pests, and other critters.  

Greenhouses allow you to create the optimal conditions for your kale and other crops. You can control different factors, such as temperature, light, moisture, humidity, fertilization, and irrigation. Additionally, you can be sure that your plants aren’t exposed to harmful chemicals and diseases. 

 

Growing Plants in a Greenhouse vs. Growing Plants Outdoors

There’s a difference between growing your vegetables outdoors and growing hem indoors. As mentioned, indoor planting allows you to control all the variables that contribute to your plants’ growth, such as light, humidity, water, temperature, and soil nutrients. 

When temperature, humidity, and moisture are controlled, this gives your plants a constant supply of moisture, reducing water stress and allowing your plants to grow freely. Additionally, growing plants in a greenhouse allow you to control the soil. Having the right type of soil can make or break your plants as it can prevent diseases and ward off pests compared. 

The only downside to having a greenhouse is the costs that come with it. However, greenhouses are an investment. If you’re willing to shell out money and invest in a greenhouse, it’s a better option than growing plants outdoors. 

However, planting outdoors has its advantages and disadvantages. With outdoor planting, your plants rely on soil moisture alone. Drought and other external factors may contribute to water stress, making it harder for your plants to thrive. 

On the other hand, outdoor plants get more sun, allowing them to grow bigger and stronger. Planting outdoors won’t cost you much as well. 

 

Final Thoughts

Greenhouses are a great way to plant kale and other types of companion plants for kale. If you’re looking for a low price and high-quality greenhouses, Krostrade offers affordable greenhouses ideal for people who want to grow their fruit and vegetables in their gardens. Our greenhouses are made with high-quality materials so you can use them for years to come. 

The greenhouse film is made with COEX-3 technology consisting of three layers. This creates a dense, heat-insulating dome that still allows 95% of natural sunlight. If you want to know more about our offer, don’t hesitate to contact us today.  

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How To Prevent Root Rot In Hydroponics: 3 Useful Tips

If you’re a newbie gardener who’s looking to find ways to hone your skills, you’d want to learn how to prevent root rot in hydroponics even before this problem affects your plants.

Hydroponics can be advantageous to crops in more ways than one. However, it also comes with risks of diseases, such as root rot, which can be destructive or even lethal to your plants.

Unfortunately, there are no effective methods to recover the wilted parts that were affected by the root rot once it hits your plants. The only thing you can do if you do not want this catastrophe to befall your crops is to prevent it before it happens. Read on to learn more about this subject.

 

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is a disease that attacks the plant roots and causes them to suffer decay. This usually happens when a lack of oxygen supply occurs in the substrate.

To give you an idea, think about plant roots that are submerged in water that only has a little oxygen in it. Over time, the plant suffocates and dies.

Aside from rot and decay, this disease also leads to the proliferation of fungi that are naturally present in the soil. These include Rhizoctonia, Alternaria, Pythium, Botrytis, Fusarium, or Phytophthora. As soon as fungi colonies start to grow, they tend to target the weakened roots and infect your precious plant babies.

Once the plant becomes infected, they won’t be able to take in what they need to grow – water, oxygen, and other nutrients. When this happens, it won’t be long before the plant dies.

 

What is Hydroponics?

In case you’re not aware, the term hydroponic is derived from a Latin word that means “working water”. To put it simply, hydroponics is an art that involves growing various types of plants without soil. If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind when somebody talks about hydroponics would be a picture of plants with roots suspended into the water without using any type of growing medium.

 

Avoiding Root Rot in Hydroponic Systems

Detecting and identifying root rot can be tricky. When your plants get infected, their leaves and roots gradually wither until the whole crop itself dies from the lack of nutrients, which is a common symptom of many diseases.

 

What causes root rot in hydroponics?

One of the requirements in hydroponics systems is oxygen. Without it, your plants are basically on the road to death. On the other hand, lack of such is one of the major triggers for root rot, and it must be avoided at all costs.

Just like when planting in soil, you loosen up the ground so that your plants’ roots can have their required intake of oxygen. That is the case for crops grown in aqueous solutions as well. If they cannot breathe, they would not be able to grow.

Another agent for root rot is the temperature. The last thing you would want in your system are parasites that leech nutrients intended for your plants and infect the water during the process. In common terms, these fungi are called molds.

One of the best breeding grounds for these is warm and moist areas. For this reason, if the water temperature inside your reservoir is high, then you are susceptible to it. Something as minor as letting the solutions exposed to sunlight can already be a risk factor.

 

3 Useful Tips on How to prevent root rot in hydroponics

There is good news! Root rot in hydroponics can be prevented! Just follow these tips:

Tip#1: Use the right air pump

If you do not want root rot to affect your plants, you merely have to avoid its causes. If you need oxygen, keep the water bubbling by providing an air pump of appropriate size, and also give importance to proper ventilation in the room.

 

Tip #2: Maintain the temperature

The temperature should be maintained within the 70 to 80 degrees F range. Get rid of any materials that can make your system vulnerable to infections, and make sure not to disturb your crops while they are trying to grow.

 

Tip #3: Get rid of the rotten parts

However, if you failed in preventing the disease, then the rotten parts should be removed immediately. Cut them off as there is no chance of reviving them, and focus on the potential new growth instead. Fix your hydroponics system and eliminate the risks.

 

Why Give Greenhouse Gardening a Try?

Greenhouse gardening offers numerous benefits to greens aficionados who dare to take their gardening experience to the next level. Aside from acting as a shield against the effects of inclement weather, a mini, hobby, or semi-pro greenhouse can also serve as a protective layer that keeps harmful bugs and critters at bay.

What’s more, its enclosed structure allows you to control your plants’ growing conditions including the temperature, light, moisture, and ventilation of the greenhouse’s internal environment. With a controlled environment, you’ll be able to extend growing seasons and grow plants that aren’t native to your area.

 

Conclusion

No matter how well-informed you are about how to prevent root rot in hydroponics, you cannot completely eradicate the risks. Therefore, to avoid the worst-case scenario, you should be prepared to sacrifice the infected for the sake of others. While you’re at it, consider trying your hand at greenhouse gardening as well.

 

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