Many people lump leafy greens like collards, Swiss chard, and mustard greens together. What they might not know, though, is that kale is the most nutritious of them all. If you’ve been trying to find out how to plant kale to use it in your home cooking, then you’ve come to the right place.
Planting kale isn’t something that all gardeners try, but those who do benefit from it in a variety of ways. There is a lot to comprehend about planting kale seeds and growing them to maturity.
Knowing how far apart to plant kale and the type of soil it prefers are only a couple of the topics you should figure out. The more you understand about growing kale plants, the more productive your crops are.
It’s a good feeling to know that you successfully provided your veggies everything required to thrive, and you get rewarded with large yields at the end of the growing season.
Follow along as we show you everything you must know about growing kale in your garden beds.
You may have heard kale referred to as its scientific name Brassica oleracea. This name indicates that kale is a type of cabbage, although it doesn’t have the tightly packed head that we normally associate with it.
Aside from the nutritious value, kale leaves are brilliant shades of blue, green, and purple that make them as good to look at as they are to eat.
Kale is a biennial plant that enjoys cool weather. Like when growing collards, it is a quick grower and adjusts wells to growing regions of all kinds. Most kale plants reach one or two feet tall and wide and adapt to most environments.
Kale originated in the Mediterranean and has become a popular vegetable over the last 2,000 years. Today, there are dozens of varieties of kale for gardeners to choose from.
Lacinato, Vates, Redbor, Winterbor, Dwarf Blue, and Red Russian are only some of the most popular kinds of kale people grow.
It is rewarding to grow your own kale from seeds and turn the tender leaves into delicious stir fries or kale chips. To find the best way to plant kale, read through this article and apply what you learn in your own garden or raised beds.
Tips for Planting Kale
You aren’t born knowing how far apart to plant kale or when to harvest it. Even if you have a general understanding of gardening, it is still beneficial to cater to each plant’s individual needs.
Keep some of these gardening tips in mind when gardening for a successful growing season this summer.
How to Plant Kale
One of the benefits of planting kale in your garden is that it tolerates a little bit of frost. To harvest in early or late summer, sow seeds after the last frost or expected frost date in the early spring.
For a fall or winter harvest, sow seeds directly into the ground about three months before the first fall frost of the season.
Timing is important, but so are the location and preparation of the planting site. Kale thrives when placed in full sun, but they won’t let you down if they have some partial shade either. It is not one of the best vegetables to grow in shade.
The ideal soil pH is between 6.5 and 6.8. This pH level discouraged diseases, but more alkaline soils up to 7.5 do fine as well. Perform a soil test with a pH kit if you are unsure about your soil alkalinity.
After you perform your soil test, amend the earth with some compost rich in nitrogen. Ensure that the area is well-draining so that it grows large, green leaves as it develops. Once you know the soil conditions are right, it’s time to start sowing seeds.
We recommend choosing heirloom kale seeds that have built-in resistance to some diseases. Sow the seeds directly outside, about half an inch deep. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water the entire area so the ground is moist.
Use organic mulch or straw to spread around the base of each plant. Mulch helps the ground hold onto moisture so that you have to water less throughout the season.
How Far Apart to Plant Kale
Kale plant spacing is another crucial factor when learning how to plant kale. If the plants are too close together, they fight for nutrition, and the roots get overcrowded.
Seedlings should be about eight to 12 inches apart. If transplanting them, space each one 18 to 24 inches apart.
Caring for Kale Plants
The soil temperature only has to remain around 45°F to 50°F for germination to take place. Once the ground keeps its warmth, you’ll start to see sprouts in as little as eight days.
Kale enjoys having a good amount of water. If it isn’t raining, give them about one-and-a-half inches of water every week.
If your plants don’t seem to be doing well, feed them with continuous-release plant food. Check your growing plants regularly for pests and diseases and remove any wilting or yellowing leaves.
Kale Pests and Diseases
All plants are prone to certain pests or diseases, and kale isn’t an exception. Even though it’s generally hardy, some of the most common issues to look out for are cabbage worms, aphids, flea beetles, or fungal diseases.
Spraying fungicides containing Bacillus amyloliquefaciens is one way to counteract most diseases. If you’re having trouble with pests, try using row covers or making an insecticidal spray.
Find a spray bottle and add the oil and dishwashing liquid to it. Fill the bottle up with warm water and shake it, so everything dissolves and mixes. The best way to kill aphids on kale plants is to spray the solution directly onto your plants. If possible, remove any pests that are visible with your hands.
How to Harvest Kale
Harvesting is the most exciting part of the season. It is when all your hard work finally pays off, and you get to taste the end result. How long does it take for kale to grow so it’s ready to pick? Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are the size of your hand.
Start by gathering the older leaves first from the lower section of the kale. Try not to pick the terminal bud at the top of the plant, or it stops production.
Kale grows even when it is only 20°F outside and sometimes develops a sweeter flavor after experiencing some frost. To prolong harvest time, cover your kale with some row covers or tarps.
Use small leaves in a raw salad and sauté or cook the larger ones like spinach. Place your harvested kale leaves in a loose plastic bag and put them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator until ready to cook with them.
Pull the kale leaves away from their stems and coarsely chop them. Heat the oil in a pan and stir in the garlic and red pepper. Add the raw kale and allow it to cook down for five minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.
Kale has skyrocketed in popularity over the years and has become a superfood that health fans can’t get enough of. Consider growing your own kale at home or at least adding it into your diet to experience the numerous benefits it has to offer.
If learning how to plant kale has added some interest to your garden, share this guide for planting kale on Facebook and Pinterest.