Everything You Need to Know About Growing Kale Plants in Your Garden


Kale (Brassica oleracea var. Acephala) is a member of the cabbage family and is known for its nutrient-rich leaves. It is a versatile and hardy vegetable that can be grown in a variety of climates. Kale plants can be selected based on their germination, so it is important to provide them with well-drained soils and adequate watering.

When planting kale, it is important to give them enough space to grow, as they can reach a height of up to 3 feet. Kale plants can be watered every 7 to 10 days, but this can vary depending on the climate and soil conditions. Mulching around the base of the plants can help conserve moisture and protect the plants from heat and frost.

There are different varieties of kale, such as Russian kale, lacinato kale, and curly kale. Some varieties are more cold-hardy and can withstand frosts, while others are better suited for warmer climates. It is important to read up on specific information about the selected kale variety to ensure proper care and harvesting.

Kale plants can be grown from seed or transplants. If starting from seed, it is recommended to start them indoors in flats before transplanting them to the ground. Seedlings should be planted deep and given enough space to grow. Kale plants can take anywhere from 55 to 75 days to reach maturity, depending on the variety.

Harvesting kale leaves can be done on an individual basis, starting with the outer leaves first. The leaves can be harvested throughout the summer until the plant bolts and begins to flower. Regular harvesting also encourages the growth of new leaves. Proper care and maintenance, such as watering and feeding, will ensure a bountiful kale harvest.

For additional information about growing and harvesting kale, there are resources available at libraries and online gardening websites, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds and the Grower’s Library. These sources provide valuable information about kale culture, planting techniques, and answers to frequently asked questions.

In conclusion, kale is a nutrient-rich and versatile vegetable that can be grown in a variety of climates. It requires well-drained soils, regular watering, and proper care to ensure a successful harvest. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, kale can be a rewarding addition to your home garden or community plot.

Planting Growing Harvesting Kale

Kale, or Brassica oleracea var. acephala, is a cold-hardy leafy green that is popular among gardeners and health enthusiasts. It belongs to the same family as collards, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Kale can grow well in a variety of soils and can withstand frost and cold temperatures.

Planting: Kale can be grown from seeds or transplants. If planting from seeds, start them indoors in flats 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Transplants can also be purchased from nurseries or selected garden centers. When planting, choose a well-drained location with full sun or partial shade.

Growing: Kale plants need deep and moist soil. Before planting, work compost or organic matter into the ground to improve drainage and enrich the soil. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry periods, to maintain moisture levels. Apply a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to feed the plants. Mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

Harvesting: Kale can be harvested when the leaves are of adequate size and maturity. Begin harvesting by picking the outer leaves first, leaving the center leaves to continue growing. The older leaves tend to become tough and bitter, so it’s best to harvest the tender young leaves. Harvesting can be done by cutting the leaves individually or by cutting the entire plant at the base.

Key Information: Kale is a cool-season crop, and it performs best when grown in temperatures below 80°F (27°C). Russian red kale (Brassica napus var. pabularia) and lacinato kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) are two popular kale varieties. If planted in winter, kale may need additional protection from harsh frosts by using row covers or mulch. If you have any questions about kale planting, growing, or harvesting, visit your local library or check out gardening books for more information.

Feed and Water Your Kale

Kale is a cold-hardy plant that can withstand frosts and cold temperatures. It is a member of the cabbage family, Brassica oleracea var. acephala, which also includes crops such as collards and broccoli. When growing kale, it is important to provide it with enough water and nutrients to ensure proper growth and a bountiful harvest.

Before planting your kale, make sure to select a well-drained location with fertile soils. Kale prefers moist, well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. You can improve the soil’s fertility by adding compost or other organic amendments.

Once your kale is planted, it is crucial to keep it watered throughout its growing season. Kale requires consistent moisture to thrive, especially during hot summer months. Water your kale deeply and regularly, ensuring that the soil stays moist but not waterlogged.

In addition to regular watering, you can also feed your kale with a balanced fertilizer or organic product. Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, making sure to distribute it evenly around the plants. This will provide your kale with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

During the summer heat, it is important to conserve moisture in your kale beds. You can do this by applying a layer of mulch around the plants. A layer of plastic mulch can help retain moisture and regulate the soil temperature. Mulch also helps to suppress weeds, which can compete with kale for nutrients and water.

As your kale plants grow, you may need to provide additional water during dry spells. It is also important to keep an eye out for signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing leaves, which may indicate that your plants need more water or nutrients.

Harvesting your kale can begin when the plants have reached maturity. The time to maturity will vary depending on the variety of kale you are growing. For example, lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale) typically takes around 60-80 days to mature, while Russian kale can be harvested in as little as 30-50 days.

To harvest kale, simply cut the outer leaves from the plant, leaving the central growing point intact. This allows the plant to continue producing new leaves for a longer period. The leaves can be harvested as needed or the entire plant can be harvested at once.

For home growers, kale can be harvested from early spring until winter frosts set in. In milder climates, kale can even be grown throughout the winter months. Kale is a versatile and nutritious green that can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes, from salads to smoothies to sautés.

For more information on kale and its cultivation, consult gardening books or online resources. Local libraries often have a good selection of books on vegetable gardening. Online seed suppliers, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds, also provide detailed information on kale varieties, culture, and harvesting techniques.

Remember, providing your kale with adequate water and nutrients is key to ensuring a successful crop. By taking proper care of your kale plants, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of this nutritious and delicious green.

Conserve Moisture with Mulch

One key to successful kale plant growth is the conservation of moisture, which can be achieved through the use of mulch. Mulch is a layer of selected material that is applied to the ground around the plants to help retain moisture and prevent weed growth. It also helps to regulate soil temperature by providing insulation, keeping the roots cool in hot weather and protecting them from frosts in colder climates.

Kale is a cold-hardy plant that can withstand a variety of growing conditions. It is a member of the Brassica oleracea family, which also includes crops like broccoli, collards, and cabbage. Kale is known for its deep green leaves and is a popular choice among home gardeners and commercial growers.

When planting kale, it is important to prepare the soil by giving it enough organic matter, such as compost, to ensure the plants have enough nutrients to grow. Kale grows best in well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. It is also important to provide adequate moisture for the seeds or transplants during germination and establishment.

One of the advantages of using mulch with kale is that it helps to conserve moisture in the soil, reducing the need for frequent watering. The mulch acts as a barrier, slowing down evaporation and protecting the soil from drying out during hot and dry spells. To help conserve moisture, apply a layer of mulch around each kale plant, leaving space around the stem to prevent rot.

The type of mulch you choose to use may vary depending on your specific growing conditions and preferences. Organic mulches, such as straw or shredded leaves, are commonly used in home gardens. Plastic mulch is also a popular choice among commercial growers, as it can help regulate soil temperature and control weed growth.

Mulch Type Pros Cons
Organic Mulch (e.g., straw, shredded leaves) – Helps retain moisture
– Provides nutrients as it breaks down
– Improves soil structure
– May attract pests or harbor diseases if not properly composted
– May require frequent replacement
Plastic Mulch – Regulates soil temperature
– Controls weed growth
– Provides long-lasting moisture retention
– Does not provide organic matter to the soil
– Requires proper installation and removal

Regardless of the type of mulch you choose, it is important to apply an adequate layer around the kale plants. Aim for a thickness of about 2-4 inches, ensuring that the mulch covers the soil surface but does not touch the stems of the plants directly.

By using mulch, you can help conserve moisture in the soil, reduce weed growth, and protect your kale plants from extreme temperatures. This will create a favorable growing environment for your kale and contribute to a successful harvest.

Harvest Your Kale

Once your kale plants have reached maturity, it’s time to harvest them. Kale plants can be harvested at any stage, but the leaves are usually at their most tender when they are young. For the best flavor and texture, harvest the leaves before they become too large or tough.

When harvesting kale, start by selecting the outer leaves of the plant. These leaves are usually older and larger, making them ready for harvest. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the leaves close to the stem. Make sure to leave the center leaves untouched, as they will continue to grow and produce more leaves.

If you are growing kale from seeds, it’s important to know the germination and maturity time for your specific variety. Most kale plants reach maturity within 55 to 75 days after planting. Keep an eye on your kale plants and harvest them when they are fully grown and ready to eat.

To ensure a continuous supply of fresh kale, consider planting additional seedlings every few weeks. This will allow you to have a steady harvest throughout the growing season. You can also select different varieties of kale, such as Russian, Lacinato, or collards, to add variety to your garden and extend your harvest.

Kale is a cold-hardy plant that can withstand frost and even snow. In fact, kale is often sweeter and more flavorful after exposure to cold temperatures. However, if you live in an area with severe winters, you may need to harvest your kale before the first frost to prevent damage to the plants.

When harvesting kale for winter use, consider using a mulch or plastic cover to protect the plants from harsh weather conditions. This will help conserve moisture in the soil and keep the plants healthy. Remember to water your kale plants regularly, especially during periods of drought or high heat.

Once you’ve harvested your kale, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. However, for longer-term storage, consider blanching and freezing the kale. This will retain its flavor and nutritional value for several months.

Now that you have all the information you need about growing and harvesting kale, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether you use it in salads, soups, or smoothies, kale is a versatile and nutritious addition to your meals. So go ahead, harvest your kale and feed your family with this healthy green!

✿ Read More About Vegetables.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.