Kale Red Russian belongs to the Napus family of kales which are generally more tender, juicy and sweet (whilst packing the same nutritional punch) than their European “Oleracea” cousins.
Beautiful flat, grey-green leaves are brought to life with almost fluorescent pink/purple veins. Kale Red Russian is a beautiful plant, worthy of architectural and ornamental planting.
These guys will happily grow all year round, and a blast of frosty air serves to convert starches to sugars and sweeten them. Hardy to -20 degrees, they will crop all winter long in most areas of the UK and should not be left off the menu. Did we mention they are delicious?
- Pack size: 100 seeds
- Time to germination: 7 - 14 days
- When to sow: May – July
- When to plant out: June - August
- Spacing: 50cms
- Soil preference: Fertile, firm, moisture retentives
- Light preference: Full sun, part shades
- When to harvest: October - February
How to grow Kale Red Russian from seed
Kale is best sown in 3cm coco pots rather than directly in the bed. Poke a hole 0.5-1cm deep and sow two seeds, gently covering and watering in. Easy to grow, kale seeds germinate between 5 and 30 degrees, so your room temperature is sufficient.
Place pots on a windowsill or under grow lights to establish and bulk up, then thin to one plant and transplant outside when they are 10cm or have 5 or 6 leaves. Usually, this is 6 weeks after sowing. All plants suffer transplant shock; kale, particularly, so avoid root disturbance by burying the coco pot with the plant. The roots will easily penetrate the walls for faster establishment and no growth check.
Once growing, Red Russian needs little attention. Water during dry periods, remove yellowing leaves and some weeding is beneficial early on. However, kale will quickly shade weeds out.
Harvest this easy-going leafy green as a microgreen, baby leaf or when mature. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the leaf, the more tender so aim to harvest when they’re the size of your hand for best eating.
To ensure your kale grows back all season long, pick the lowest largest leaves first and avoid the central bud. Always leave enough foliage, so the plant has the means to regrow as well! A handful of plants scattered over your plot should be sufficient.
What to feed your kale plants
All kales are heavy feeders; however, they will tolerate less fertile soils. It is said that aphids are attracted to weaker pants and growth is faster and larger if well fed so we suggest amending the area before transplanting. Do so with a good mix of rotten farmyard manure for nitrogen and fish, bone and bone meal with some volcanic rock dust and kelp powder to give them a rich, balanced and diverse diet released over the season for strong organic growth.
Keeping pests away
Compared to others in the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and so on), kale suffers slightly less from pests and diseases; however, they aren’t without predators.
Garden pests enjoy kale seedlings, and as such we recommend starting them off indoors and under lights to ensure a compact, healthy young plant which is large and sturdy enough to survive an encounter with a slug or pigeon.
The other pest worth a mention is the caterpillar. Pleasant white butterflies dance around your summer plot dipping onto brassicas to lay their eggs. Their offspring can decimate a crop if left unchecked. If you have a healthy resident bird population, these are less of a problem. Limit infestations by physical exclusion or by scatter planting single kale plants in different areas of the garden.
Bacillus thuringiensis is a natural soil born bacteria and is 100% safe for insects, bees, fish and other aquatic organisms and mammals including humans. Diluted in water and sprayed onto the underside of your Red Russian Kale leaves, it is deadly to caterpillars. While this organic remedy works effectively, we recommend avoiding planting kale in blocks and rows to keep this easy-going veg low maintenance. Grow Sow Greener is a regenerative gardening company advocating back to the roots tried and tested methods. We don’t recommend the use of or sell any extremely profitable pesticides, herbicides or inorganic fertilizers. They are detrimental to the health of your entire garden ecosystem from microbe to mammal.
Instead, we suggest encouraging birds, hedgehogs and toads to take up residence, all of which are voracious predators of snails and slugs. Provide a water source if possible and some shelter and winter food for birds. When ordering Red Russian Kale seeds from Grow Sow Greener, you will receive free sunflower seeds loose in the pack which are beautiful plants in their own right. Plant a handful into a sunny corner to attract beneficial insects during the summer months, and then their seed heads will provide a great source of food for your overwintering feathered friends.