Growing kale, a nutritious and hardy green full of Vitamin A, is one of the easiest plants you can grow in your garden. You can even grow it in containers or in shallow plant flats. It varies in size or color, and some varieties have curled or ruffled edges to the leaves.
It can be grown in the fall or even started in early spring, as it likes cool weather, and if the area you live stays above 15 degrees Fahrenheit all winter long, you can keep on growing kale throughout the winter.
Kale prefers damp, fertile soil with a pH that falls into the ranges of 6.0 to 7.5. Since Kale loves a well-fertilized soil, be sure to mix in plenty of an organic, balanced fertilizer when preparing your soil.
Ordinarily, kale can be sown directly into your prepared garden soil, but when starting seeds in early spring, it may be best to start them indoors depending on your climate, then harden the plants off and transfer them outside, keeping them covered by cloches, wall-o-waters, or thick protective clear plastic garden sheeting to keep the plants safe from harsh temperatures. When planting your seeds or seedlings, be sure to space them 12” apart for best growth, and mulch them well in warmer weather to protect the roots from higher temperatures.
Find out your local garden zone, and then check to see when is the ideal time to start or plant your kale seeds for the spring crop. Cool soil is no problem, as long as you defend the plants from the cold wind. The kale will take off, and you’ll be on your way to cool-weather garden bounty!
You may have problems with insects when summer arrives, and kale doesn’t take kindly to hot summer sun, so most gardeners will pull their plants to make room for new summer crops. When July or August commences, it may be time to start new seedlings for your fall crop of kale, depending on which gardening zone you reside in.
If pests become a problem, an easy organic way to protect the kale plants is to lay a featherweight row cover over the kale rows, held up by stakes or hoops.
Kale is a cut-and-come crop, meaning you can cut a few leaves off every day, and the plant will keep growing. Harvest kale to eat fresh when it is about as big as your hand, and if you have any older leaves, save those for cooking. You can probably cut about three to five leaves per day once the kale is ready to start harvesting, and have a continuous supply of fresh greens for your table or for smoothies. The kale is sweetest in the fall, once it has been kissed by a few light frosts.
You may even consider growing kale in outdoor planters, surrounded by fall flowers or other cool-weather brassica plants, as an edible container garden. Purple kale in particular makes for lovely autumn accent, and your neighbors may never even know that the beautiful kale “bouquets” that flank your walkway are also a crisp, edible landscaping!