Kale Growing Guide

All you need to know to grow successfully!

Plant Family:
Brassicaceae
Plant Type:
Perennial

Square Foot Spacing:

4
Typical Season:
Cool season
Typical Zones Grown In:
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ,10
Growing Difficulty:
Easy

Kale is a nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable that is a member of the cabbage family. It is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and antioxidants, making it a superfood for health-conscious individuals. Kale has a slightly bitter taste and a tough texture, and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and smoothies. It is easy to grow and can be grown in a variety of conditions, including in containers or in the ground. Kale prefers cool temperatures and well-draining soil, and can be sown in early spring or in the fall for a winter crop. It requires consistent moisture and regular fertilization to ensure healthy growth, and can be harvested when the leaves are large enough to be picked.

How to Grow Kale Organically

  1. Soil Preparation: Kale grows best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Before planting, loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and add compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility.
  2. Planting: Kale can be planted as seedlings or seeds directly in the garden. If planting seedlings, space them 12 to 18 inches apart. If planting seeds, sow them 1/2 inch deep and 2 to 4 inches apart.
  3. Watering: Kale needs consistent moisture, especially during hot and dry weather. Water regularly, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  4. Fertilization: Kale is a heavy feeder, so fertilize the soil before planting and then again every 4 to 6 weeks throughout the growing season with an organic fertilizer.
  5. Pest and Disease Control: Kale is susceptible to aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. To control pests, use row covers or spray with insecticidal soap. To prevent disease, practice crop rotation and avoid overwatering.
  6. Harvesting: Kale leaves can be harvested when they are 4 to 6 inches long. Harvest from the outside of the plant, leaving the center leaves to continue growing. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in soups, stir-fries, or as a side dish.

Planting Guidelines

The following are general guides to follow. However, nothing is set in stone. Feel free to experiment!

How to Start:
Direct Sow, Start Indoor
When to Direct Sow:
March, April, May, June, July
When to Start Indoors:
March, February, April, May, June, July, August, September
Sprouting Time:
7-10 days.

Ideal Temperature (C):

10-30
Depth:
3-4 seeds 5mm (¼”) deep
Spacing (cm):
45-60cm (18-24″)
Row Spacing (cm):
75-90cm (30-36″)
Sun Exposure:
Part Shade,Full Sun
Maturity Time:
50-70 days
When To Harvest:
January, March, February, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
How to Harvest:
Kale and collards can both be grown as a cut and come again crop for salad mixes by direct-seeding and cutting when plants are 5-8cm (2-3″) tall. They will re-grow. Or pick leaves from the bottom up on mature plants as you need them. In spring, the surviving plants start to flower, so eat the delicious flowering steps and buds.

Health Benefits

Growing your own food is one of the best things you can do for your health. Let’s check out some of the health benefits!

Is It Edible?
Yes
Edible Parts:
Leaves, stems, and flowers
Potential Health Benefits:
Cancer-Fighting, Weight Loss, Nutrient-Dense, Eye Health, Immune Health, Mineral Dense, Heart Health

Tips to Growing Organically

Growing without the use of pesticides and herbicides is easier than you may think and it’s better for the environment!

Companion Plants:
Chamomile, Dill, Mint, Rosemary, Sage
What Plants to Avoid:
Eggplant, Pepper, Potato, Tomato
Common Pests:
Protect from cabbage moths and other insect pests with floating row cover.
Common Disease:
Prevent disease with a strict 4-year crop rotation, avoiding planting Brassicas in the same spot more than once every four years.
Bonus Grow Tips:
Although most kale is used as an annual, many varieties are actually perennial, which means it will continue to produce through multiple seasons if you care for it correctly. An essential part of this is to ensure you're harvesting on a regular basis.

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