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I have some kale that I planted in a raised bed. It is growing well and I take out leaves as and when I need it. Of course, it keeps growing new leaves. My question is at what point will the kale stop producing (or die)? The motivation for my question is to start planning for the next set of plants to put in place of the kale when they eventually stop producing.

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Depending on the zone you are raising Kale the main sign that that Kale plant will stop producing is when it flowers/produces seed. Bolts...keep those flowers off that plant, use higher nitrogen when fertilizing and it should last most of the season. It is an annual normally. An annual has only ONE purpose in life and that is to make seeds, babies. You cut those babies/flowers/reproductive structures OFF and that annual gets bigger, healthier and REALLY starts producing. Now an annual where you only want vegetative growth you make dang sure you NEVER allow any energy to go into seed making. You do that by using NPK ratios so that the N is higher in number than the phosphorus and potassium. You cut off chop off any reproductive growth that starts. When the daylight hours shorten you'll not be able to keep up as that is another trigger telling that plant time is short and you need to make seed! I am not advocating LOTS OF FERTILIZER. It is simply the PERCENTAGE between the three vital chemicals plants need to have in a domestic garden. Higher the number on N, you get vegetative growth...leaves. Lower than number below the P and the K and you'll get more reproductive growth. Once that plant sets seed...hey its life is fullfilled and will start dying.

If a gardener wants more of a vegey, definitely what you intuit is to start fresh crops every 2 weeks apart...hey, what do you use your kale FOR? I love Kale.

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  • Thanks for the lesson on NPK. That is fundamental knowledge. So the way I interpret that is when growing cucumbers, bell peppers, etc., use less N and when growing leafy vegetables use more N. Is that accurate? BTW, I use Kale for salads and love it too. Need to look at other recipes as well. – JStorage Jun 7 '16 at 21:03
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    There you go, you got it. Fundamental yet important. When you want berries, or flowers or cucumbers...reproductive growth it makes A HUGE difference that you use lower percentage of nitrogen in relation to P and K. Hey, my hubby bought me fertilizer that was 6-5-5 and it was TOO MUCH nitrogen lots of green leaves but stopped reproductive growth like now. The fertilizer said for use with tomatoes, and vegeys and flowers and I tried it but just that little difference was all it took to screw up my vegetables...great for lettuce and kale...but. Here is a great way to use Kale... – stormy Jun 7 '16 at 22:28
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    Break up kale leaves into chip size chunks, toss in peanut oil or olive oil...quit using corn oils btw, drain and organize on a cookie sheet with parchment, sprinkle with a little coarse kosher salt and bake at 250 until crispy like a chip! YUMMERS. Kale is an 'indicator' plant. If you've got heavy metals, toxins in your soil that you don't know about.Kale and the brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, etc) suck that stuff up and store & accumulate the stuff. I worry about these persistent contrails as they spray heavy metals primarily to make...clouds for instance. Test it if you can...grins – stormy Jun 7 '16 at 22:34
  • Can't wait to try out the recipe this weekend. BTW, I did not understand your comment about "indicator" plant. How would I know there is too much metal and toxins by looking at brassicas? – JStorage Jun 7 '16 at 23:52
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    I deserve this, sigh. I wasn't thinking clearly or something. Arrrggg. JStorage, just forget I said anything about 'indicator plant' just something I've been involved with lately and shoot...you'll be fine. You should get a soil test anyway. Cheap...go through your closest University Extension Service for soil testing. Tells you an awful lot, used to be free but still cheap...those kale chips are so yummy...honest injun! – stormy Jun 8 '16 at 8:27
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I had kale survive on my allotment over winter to April this year ( middle of the UK, ~200m high ). The hardiness depends a lot on your variety, but as long as you keep pinching off the flowers it'll last for a long time. At some point the taste will become unpleasant as it puts all its energy into seed production. Its probably better for you to decide when you need to plant the next crop than to guess the lifetime of Kale.

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