Kale has become one of the most popular leafy greens, and there is a reason why. It’s full of calcium, iron, fiber, vitamins C, A, and K. They can be used in salads, juices, smoothies, and other recipes. Growing kale in your home might be a great idea. So if you are interested in planting kale and want to figure out how to grow kale, stick around. We’ll go over all the information you will need for growing kale from seeds.
You don’t need to be an experienced gardener to grow kale successfully, they are quite easy to grow, and can be grown in the garden or inside containers. When to plant kale? Planting kale seeds can be done in early spring or late summer. The cool weather tends to add a nutty, sweet flavor to this leafy green.
Kale belongs to the Brassica family, other plants in this family are broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. They are more of a cool-season veggie. Now, how fast does kale grow? This is another great thing about kale is that they grow quite fast, all the kale growing stages, from seed until harvest usually happens in approximately two months. It is mostly grown as an annual plant, but it is actually biennial. The best time to plant kale is in spring, in the case of cooler climates, and in a warmer climate, in late summer.
How to Plant Kale
Kale can be easily grown from seeds. You can choose to plant them directly in the soil of the garden or start them indoors and then transplant them. Another option is to use nursery starts. If you don’t have so much garden space they can grow in containers and raised garden beds just as well. It is one of the plants that you can harvest while the growth of the plant continues. So you will probably need just a few plants of kale, the amount will depend on the amount of kale you wish to be able to harvest.
Caring for Kale
- Light requirements. Since, when growing kale, the focus is on the leaves and not the flowers, the plants can easily grow in partial shade to full sun. If the area where you live is dry and warm, it is best if you offer your kale plants some shade, especially for those afternoons when it gets hot. Too much heat can cause the leaves to lose flavor and wilt.
- Watering. Your kale plants should be watered regularly, you are aiming to maintain the soil moist evenly. Cool temperatures and moist soil are the two factors that allow the leaves of the kale to keep their crisp and sweet qualities, instead of becoming bitter and tough. If you add some mulch around your kale plants it will also be helpful in maintaining the soil cool and retaining moisture.
- Soil conditions. Kale plants will definitely grow better in rich soil, with a high amount of organic matter, with a pH level slightly acidic. The organic matter provides content high in nitrogen which is important for the growth of the leaves. It is also important that the soil is well-draining.
- Fertilizer. When planting or transplanting kale, mix the fertilizer into the top 7 to 10 centimeters of soil. Then, during the growing season, you can feed your plant regularly, using the instructions in the label of the fertilizer. You can use a vegetable high-nitrogen fertilizer or compost.
- Temperature and humidity. When planting the kale the ideal temperature for the soil to be in is between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius. All of the varieties of kale like cool temperatures better, and will become slightly sweeter with a bit of frost. Kale tends to become bitter when growing in hot weather. Because it is a biennial plant, it will take two kale growing seasons for its cycle of life to be complete, but it is mostly grown as an annual. In most zones, it can survive all through winter if it gets the right protection, but if it gets exposed to snow or even heavy frosts it will probably die.
- Harvesting. As I wrote above, your kale plant will likely be mature enough for harvest, when started from seeds, in about two months. On the packet of seeds, the days to maturity can be found, if you want to have a more precise estimation of the time. If you plan to use them in fresh salads you may harvest them a little young, if however, you plan to cook them you can wait for them to mature. The best way to harvest kale is to take the outer older leaves and leave the plant’s center so it can keep producing. Kale can be harvested throughout the months of summer, but it does become tastier after a gentle frost.
- Growing kale from seeds. Plants can be started indoors, about six weeks prior to the last frost date. Inside warm soil kale seeds usually germinate fast, and start sprouting in about five to nine days. Seeds should be covered in 1,5 cm of soil and should be kept moist before germination happens. Transplanting kale. After the frost danger has passed you can transplant the seedlings. Plants should be planted about 40 cm apart, this will allow them to have space to spread and also for the air to circulate between the plants.
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