How to Grow Kale

Beautiful Kale

It might surprise you but this was my first season to grow kale and I fell in love with this plant.  You want to know what inspired this decision?  Well, it’s pretty simple I got hooked on kale salad over the winter and decided it was time to grow my own.

Kale is a green leafy plant; more of a winter vegetable that will flourish through spring and fall.  Continue growing with little effort through winter by covering during freezing temperatures making it perfect for a fall garden.

I learned so much about this plant and Robert kind of thought it was funny because he mentioned it grows wild.  He’s right and it was also an attractive staple during the depression era.   Kale is one of those greens you can eat raw or cooked and both taste great if you like greens.

Kale Growing in Quail Sanctuary

Where to Plant Kale

I planted in the Quail sanctuary late spring in new raised beds; this year I decided to start with easy crops because I wanted to learn about this black soil as much as possible.

My first impression, kale seemed pretty slow to germinate. Once it surfaced it appeared to stay as a seedling longer than expected.  This was mainly because the lettuce was overshadowing and there just wasn’t enough sunlight.

The lesson here, planting by direct seed, maturity begins around 55 – 75 day and if transplanted 30 -40 days.

This plant loves sunlight and once we cleared away more trees it took off.  Kale grows extremely well when soil is kept moist and why adding mulch is very helpful.  Mulch will decrease the number of times to water each week.

Direct Seed Planting Tips

  • Plant Kale from early spring to early summer.
  • Make sure soil is well fertilized and if planting a second season make sure to re fertilize prior to planting.
  • Plant seeds ½ inch deep into well-drained, light soil.
  • After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so they’re spaced 8 to 12 inches apart.

SIDE NOTE:  Kale isn’t the best plant for a quail garden because they love it and there will be a competition to who enjoys the harvest first.

Delicate but hardy Stems

How to Harvest

Harvest when leaves are young for salad and let mature for cooked.  I also like to take those larger leaves and cut them in small pieces to mix with stir fry or saute with herbs.  I did a lot of experimenting and Robert was a good sport because he can’t stand kale by itself.

However, he agreed in small doses it was fine.  This, made me smile!

To remove from the plant base, clip the stems from the outside working inward, very similar to harvesting lettuce.  This method is known as cut and come again which means when cutting from the exterior it encourages the inner plant to sprout new shoots.

I normally harvest the same day I’m going to use and the process is quick, much faster than running to the grocery store.

Beautiful Kale with ruffled leafs

Kale Nutrients

Kale is loaded with nutrients to support healthy skin, hair, and bones. Which is fantastic; it’s also a great source of fiber to enhance digestion and contributes to good cardiovascular health.

There’s actually more nutrition in kale than spinach which is pretty awesome because it does taste better.

Here’s a list of additional factors you may find interesting.

  • Good Source of Vitamin C and iron.
  • Contains Potassium which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Contain antioxidants known as alpha-lipoic acid.
  • Vitamin K -good for bones.
  • Vitamin A – good for your hair.
  • Vitamin B – great to balance moods

I think we can agree that kale would be a great addition to any diet.  But with any food, consume in small portions and enjoy as side servings. I’ve been mixing kale with additional green in salads, the added flavor and texture is tasty.

Thirsty Kale

When temperatures spike, it may wilt like the photo above.  Allow the plant to regroup in the evening by giving it a little water to recover.

I’m planting kale again because having ready to go veggies we can enjoy in minutes with any meal is a fantastic option.  Don’t you agree growing healthy tasty food makes sense?

If I learned anything from my grandmother it’s this, “The best food comes from your own garden or land.”

How to Grow Tasty Kale from spring through Fall. #Kale, #Gardening, #FallGardening

 

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12 comments

  1. My kale is in full sun. This year I planted two types, curly kale and Russian (Siberian) kale. I think the curly kale is a bit sweeter than the Russian. It also holds up better in the heat.

    Greg loves it in a salad, with a little shredded cabbage, tomatoes, and green onions. I use a poppy seed dressing. The trick for this salad though is to let the dressing marinate it for a while. It softens the tougher greens while it marinates it.

    I’ll be interested to see how long I can keep it growing. This is my first year growing it too.

    1. Carole says:

      I like the idea of letting the dressing marinate the salad first. I may have to try another variety for fall just to experiment but it’s hard for me because when I find something I like I just stick with it. I’m getting my plans together for fall and chickens this week after the rain passes. Feels good I’ve missed farm life…

  2. daisy says:

    I had never tasted kale until a few years ago and I am now hooked! I enjoy it in my daily salad. It is SO easy to grow. It overwintered here last year without being covered, even in below freezing temperatures. The Vates variety is our best producer, and I’ve come to like it just as much as the Lacinato. The Vates also seems less prone to insect damage.

    Kale, it’s what’s for dinner!

    1. Carole says:

      You’re awesome! Thanks for letting me know you kept it growing without covering in the winter, very helpful I plan to start more for fall because mine is in the quail sanctuary and once they arrive they’ll eat it up.

  3. Patti says:

    Oh so funny. I too have joined the kale lovers bandwagon. I haven’t tried to grow it yet but I do love it in salad or simply stir-fried with a little EVOO, garlic and salt.

    1. Carole says:

      Woo Hoo! It’s so good I added it to some street tacos this weekend and love the flavor. Try growing some in the mix of one of your beautiful beds would look so pretty!

  4. Lourdes Hernandez says:

    I discover Kale thru my daughter, and am glad. I love it, I like sautéing with yellow onions garlic, very little salt black pepper, sometimes just white pepper and olive oil. Just delicious I also just throw it in soups and lentils. I do shop it u small to me the texture is better. My daughter even makes Ships in the oven for snacking.

    1. Carole says:

      Love to saute it – I added some with chicken the other night and tossed in some basil too was so good. I’m looking forward to cooler weather because I agree it would be perfect in soup. My grandmother always added a few greens to her soup and I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Charlene Dryman says:

    My hubby makes wonderful soup, but he never adds enough kale for me. So, I have to steam more and add to my bowl. Kale is delicious. Thanks for the article.

    1. Carole says:

      You’re welcome – Love kale in soup too any kind of greens actually just so awesome!

  6. Courtney says:

    We love the lacinato (dinosaur) kale from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Delicious! And it grows all winter long.

    1. Carole says:

      Yes I love that all kale can grow through winter. Getting ready to plant more outside the Quail Sanctuary.

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