This easy step by step guide shows how to grow kale from seed giving you a ready supply of this super food. Kale is high in vitamins and easy to grow in a wide range of conditions making it a must have for the home garden.
Kale originated in the Mediterranean in ancient times and is a cultivar of cabbage grown for its leaves. An annual plant, it can grow in very cold temperatures and is best planted during the winter in warmer climates.
The leaves can be picked continuously so you only have to plant kale once a season. Some varieties will form a head in the middle. There are also dwarf varieties which are great for pots, curly leaf and purple leaf varieties.
Select a location in full sun with rich free draining soil. They will also grow in a shade house in warm climates.
Kale seeds should be sown in late summer to winter in warmer climates and from spring through to the fall in cooler climates.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Compost or Aged Manure
- Mulch – Such as this top rated straw bale mulch from Amazon. (Paid link)
- Liquid Fertilizer
- Kale Seeds (Paid link)
How to Grow Kale from Seed
- Prepare the Soil
Sow kale seeds direct in their final position. First prepare the soil by adding either compost or aged manure then dig in to a depth of 8 inches (20cm).
- Sow the Seed
Create rows 18 inches (45cm) apart then water well. Sprinkle the seed along the row then cover with ½ inch (1.5cm) of soil. Keep the top moist with a fine spray of water until the seedlings emerge in 7 to 10 days.
- Transplant Seedlings
Transplant seedlings when they are 4 inches (10cm) tall so the plants are spaced 18 inches (45cm) apart in their rows. Mulch with straw, bamboo or sugar cane mulch to keep down the weeds.
- Kale Care
Apply liquid fertilizer every two weeks then water regularly for the best results.
Now that you know how to grow kale from seed, the next step is harvesting the leaves.
Kale will take 8 to 10 weeks to reach maturity when sown from seed depending on your climate. If you are experiencing drought conditions or extreme cold weather then the time to harvest will be longer. Kale leaves can be harvested when they are 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20cm) long.
To harvest kale leaves first pick the largest leaves closest to the ground first then leave the inside leaves to grow. Cut with a pair of kitchen scissors or pruners close to the centre stalk.
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Storing Kale Leaves
Wash the leaves then leave to completely dry. Place in an airtight container then store in the fridge for up to a week. If you have too many leaves than you can use; blanch them in water for 30 seconds, place in ice water to stop the cooking process, drain well then place in freezer bags. Freeze for up to 12 months. For more information see this guide to Freezing Kale.
Kale Culinary Uses
Kale can be eaten as a salad green. It does need to be tenderised by rubbing a little salt and olive oil through the leaves but the taste is worth it. Serve with shredded carrot, almonds and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The leaves can also be simply boiled, steamed or create kale chips by baking at a low temperature with your favourite oil and seasonings. Be aware that when you boil or steam kale you do loose some of the vitamins. Kale is high in vitamin K and a rich source of vitamin A, C, B6, manganese and folate.
The kale smoothie has grown in popularity in recent years due to its high nutrient content. Some popular combinations include:
- Banana, Pineapple, Almond Milk and Kale
- Ginger, Banana, Blueberries, Honey, Almond Milk and Kale
- Celery, Apple, Almond Milk and Kale
- Strawberries, Coconut, Cashews, Maple Syrup, Almond Milk and Kale
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