Kale are a rewarding vegetable to grow at home and an excellent addition to any garden. Below we share the basics of growing kale in a home garden, as well as common mistakes and considerations.
Kale are a frost tolerant vegetable. This means the best time to plant them is mid to early spring, and mid to late summer for a fall harvest. If you’re expecting a late or early frost after planting, protect your kale with a blanket of straw or cover them with plastic buckets.
Plant your kale seeds directly in the soil of your garden or container at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 centimetre). Seeds can be planted outside or you can germinate them indoors and transplant them later. Typically, kale seeds take about 1 - 2 weeks to fully germinate.
If transplanting, the best time to move kale plants outside is when they reach 3 - 4 inches (7 - 10 centimetres) tall or have at least 3 - 4 true leaves.
When planting kale in the garden, it’s best to space them 1 - 2 feet (30 - 60 centimetres) away from the nearest plant.
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The key to caring for kale in containers is well draining soil and a pot big enough for their root system. Aim for a pot that is roughly 577 cubic inches (9,455 cubic centimetres) in size. A typical 10 or 12 inch flower pot is a great container option for kale.
For more in depth information, check out our full guide on growing kale in containers.
On average, it takes about 55 - 75 days for planted kale seeds to develop into a fully mature plant.
Typically, kale plants reach about 1 - 2 feet (or 30 - 60 centimetres) in height. Though this can fluctuate depending on the variety.
Kale need 3 - 6 hours of direct sunlight every day in order to thrive. Be careful to place your plants in an area that receives adequate sunlight. Otherwise, they may not mature properly.
Kale like well draining soil that is kept consistently moist, but not wet or soggy. The amount of water it takes to achieve this effect will differ depending on the type of soil available to you.
Be sure to water your kale on a consistent, steady schedule. This will ensure the plant yields a healthy, uniform crop.
If growing your kale in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently than kale planted directly in the garden.
You will know your kale are in need of more water when their leaves wilt, yellow, and/or the plant begins to droop. But be careful, this can also happen if the plant receives too much water. This is a difficult balance for most novice gardeners. But the more time you spend with your kale, the better you’ll be able to gauge how thirsty they are.
Snip the base of the single leaf that you want to remove with a knife or scissors. It’s best to remove the larger outter leaves first, and leave the smaller leaves to pick once they are ready. This way you won’t damage or kill the plant, and it will keep producing tastey kale for you all season.