Planting and Growing Kale

by David Schulze

Planting and growing kale can be very healthy because kale is great in smoothies.

Kale is an exceptionally cold-tolerant crop with a sweet flavor enhanced by frost and cold weather. The open-pollinated varieties are excellent for harvesting at either full size or baby-leaf stage, while the frilly hybrids are best for full-size production.

I have had some after a freeze and before. I can say I don't care for it. Red or green. But there are many people who do like it. They like to stir-fry it, make smoothies out of it and a whole lot of other stuff. If I have to eat it, then stir-fried with rice or hamburger meat would make it tolerable to me. 

There are many different types of styles, two colors and many textures. They come in open pollinated, heirloom and hybrid form.  Most kale can have a few leaves harvested without having to pull up the whole plant. While it is better grown in cool weather, it will still produce when things warm up a bit.

Before continuing read our pages on: germination tips, seed types and CowPots.

If you are a beginning gardener, then you will probably want to read just about everything we have written.

Starting Kale Plants Inside

When starting seeds inside, plant two to three seeds in a seed starting pot or medium of some type. Put in a tray and fill the tray with water to start. Once it has been soaked up, keep the tray filled 1/2 with water. The reason you want to use a tray and let the pots bottom soak the water. Trying to water from the top may dislodge the seeds and they will die.

Once the seeds grow to 4 to 6 inches tall, stop the bottom watering and water from top with a soft sprayer.  Use an organic fertilizer. When plants are 8 inches tall, transplant out. Plants will need to be hardened off before transplanting out. Try to follow planting by moonlight.

Direct Sowing

First of all start seeds three months before first frost. They will need to have some maturity to survive a frost.  Plant 3 to 4 seeds, one foot apart in a row that is one foot apart (this is for home gardener, commercial would be different). Water ground thoroughly before planting. Plant seeds 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. Try to water around the plant and let water soak through to the seeds. Or use a soaker hose.

Fertilize according to manufacturer recommendations once the plants are six inches tall. Treat with Safer Insecticidal Soap to help keep insects off by not letting them get started to begin with. 

Once the plants are mature, you can start to pick leaves. Some plants can be picked when they are at the baby stage. The seed specification will tell you.

We have had a lot of success growing kale. Even though I don't eat it, I like to grow it. I will be feeding it to my bunnies and my wife will be giving some to the chickens.