Kale is a form of cabbage that lacks the compact head associated with most cabbages. They’re a powerhouse of nutrients- packed with iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin C, and many more. Kales can be stir-fried, steamed, or substituted for spinach. Yes, they’re unique, and the best way to reap their optimal benefit is by growing your own. So get started to get some ideas to how to grow kale, which is a simple DIY.
Kale plants are quite ornamental, thanks to their curled and textured leaves. Their leaves can either be green, purple, or more. These plants are one of the undisputed kings of the winter vegetable garden. They’re cold-hardy and are the silent with the ability to handle frost once they mature. Kale plants are full of goodness and can carry on cropping in many climates. If you’ve thought of growing this hard-working beauty, the time to get started is now.
Whether you’re an avid gardener or just getting started, it’s easy to succeed with this veggie. What’s more, it’sits not a must that you have a backyard; kale plants can also thrive in containers-just ensure your pots have a well-drained potting mix.
Common Types of Kale
There exist many types of Kale that are worth a try. Whereas the flat-leaf varieties of Kale establish faster, the curly-leaf varieties do better in cold weather.
Here’s a quick run of some kale varieties you should consider.
- Redbor. It has curly leaves, crisp texture, and mild flavor.
- Lacinato. It boasts of very thick and hardy leaves that can even be harvested shortly after a snowfall.
- Hanover Salad. Its pleasant taste makes it great for eating raw in salads. It grows fast and matures early.
- Red Russian. Have smooth leaves with purple edges and veins. It has excellent resistance to slug and related pests in the garden.
- Vates: This is a dwarf variety of Kale that that’s bluish-green. It can withstand both cold and heat weather conditions.
Where to Grow Kale
Kale thrives in rich, well-drained organic soil. Such soil has high nitrogen content that’s very important for the development of health leaves. They prefer a soil pH range of 5.5-6.8.
In warm weather, plant them under some shade. For the best flavor, you should grow Kale in cold weather. If you wish to plant Kale in early spring, start them indoors in late winter.
How to Grow Kales
There are many ways to plant, grow, and care for Kale. Regardless of which method you opt for, the end will justify the means. The bare truth is that Kale is easy to grow.
- Kale can grow from seeds that are directly planted in garden soil. Also, you can start the seeds indoors then transplant them.
- They can be first planted in nursery beds then transplanted.
- Kales can be grown in containers and raised garden beds for those with limited space.
- They can also be grown as a cut-and-come-again veggie. This is when you harvest the amount you require and then leave the kale plant to continue growing.
Growing Kales from Seeds
As aforementioned, you can start them directly by direct-seeding in your garden or start the kale seeds elsewhere then transplant into the garden.
If you opt for the direct seeding in a cold climate, ensure the soil temperatures are at least 450 F (70 C). When provided with sufficient light, such plants grow slower outdoors than indoors.
Alternatively, you can start the kale plant indoors then transplant them after six weeks. The transplant should be once the frost is over. This allows them to mature before the hot summer-a time when they tend to turn woody and bitter.
As stated earlier, you can plant Kales in containers or the ground. Kale can be planted at any time. However, it does best and produces the sweetest taste when grown in cold temperatures.
When transplanting Kale seedlings, follow this procedure:
- Dig a hole.
- Pop the kale seedling in the hole at a depth of 1 cm.
- Back-fill the hole with soil. Ensure the new plant if firmly anchored into the ground.
- Maintain a spacing of 30-40 cm between your kale plants. This allows for air circulation and provides them room to spread. For Kales meant for smaller salad leaves, the spacing can be reduced to about 25 cm apart.
- After planting, water them correctly, donation’s over-water.
- Usually, Kales germinate within 5-8 days.
In case you’re planting during the warm season, sow in partial shade. If you are growing during cold temps, ensure you produce where your crop will get optimal sun.
Whereas you can inter-crop Kale with veggies such as cucumbers, spinach, onions, potatoes, and herbs, they hate growing next to beans, tomatoes, or strawberries.
How Long Does Kale Take To Mature?
Direct kale seeds usually take approximately 55-75 days to mature. However, transplants speed up the process and develop after 30-40 days. After maturity, you can go on harvesting your Kale even after snowfall.
We recommend planting more transplants or seeds (whichever you prefer) every 2-3 weeks. Doing so ensures you have a long and continuous harvest.
How to Care For Kale
- Watering. Always ensure your kales are well watered. This encourages consistent growth and ensures the leaves don’t get too harsh. During seasons when rain is inconsistent, provide them with 1-1.5 inches of water (app. 1 gallon per square foot) every week.
- Feed Them. Yes, you read that right. Kales need feeding as well. Side-dress them with compost every 6-8 weeks. It helps boost their growth throughout the season.
- Mulch. Mulching the soil hinders the growth of weeds by smoothing them. It also helps keep your kales cool under the required soil temperature and makes it easier for kale roots to feed.
- Weeding: Keep the kales well weeded. It reduces competition for nutrients.
- Use row covers to stave off pests such as flea beetles. Row covers also buffer against unexpected temperature changes.
- Pick of unhealthy leaves. Prune off any damaged or unhealthy (yellowish) leaves as soon as you sight them.
- Use a mound straw. Once your kale plant is 6 inches high, use mound straw around them. It prevents them from touching the soil, something that could affect their quality.
- Pests control. Slugs and birds such as pigeons can be a nuisance to your Kale. For the slugs, handpick them or set slug traps to eradicate them. Here are various ways to get rid of birds out of the garden. For other pests, we recommend the use of natural ways to eliminate them.
Pests and Diseases You Should Be Wary Of When Growing Kales
Kales are known to be a carefree vegetable. However, being a cabbage family member, some several pests and diseases like them as you do.
- Flea Beetles
- Cabbage Loopers
- Black-and-orange harlequin bugs
- Black Rot
Always monitor your kale plant for signs such as holes or eggs on the leaves. Please get rid of these problems as soon as you sight them. That’s probably the best defense. For the badly infested kale leaves, pick and discard them off.
Harvest and Storage of Kales
Kales are ready to harvest upon maturity, which is after about 60 days-when its leaves have reached the size of a gardener’s hand. Harvest the lower leaves to allow the central ones to sprout new leaves in 1-2 weeks. Discard the damaged and yellowed leaves.
Pick as many leaves as you desire. However, be keen to leave the top-most four leaves untouched. By doing this, it ensures continuity of production. Alternatively, you can wait for full maturity then harvest the whole plant at once-be careful not to let it overgrow and get tough.
After the harvest, wash the leaves thoroughly and then insert them into plastic bags. Afterward, store them in the fridge. They can stay preserved there for 1-2 weeks as long as they’re in plastic bags. However, kale leaves are best eaten fresh but could also be dried or canned.
Personally, Kale is one of my favorite veggies. I don’t only love their distinct flavor but also cherish their versatility and ability to be added to any dish. There’s something mystical about kales. Undoubtedly, Kale should be a part of any garden.
Hopefully, this guide complements your green finger. Embrace your newly acquired knowledge of planting, growing, and caring for Kale and making green choices for a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, I love the new recipe inspiration. How do you prepare your kales? Your inspirations story in the comments section below may touch many!