How to Grow Kale from Seed
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How to Grow Kale from Seed

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.

Growing Kale

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.

Location

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

  • Shovel
  • Compost or Aged Manure
  • Mulch – Such as this top rated straw bale mulch from Amazon. (Paid link)
  • Liquid Fertilizer
  • Kale Seeds (Paid link)

Instructions

How to Grow Kale from Seed

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

    The kale seeds sprinkled in rows.

  3. 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 seedling just emerged from the ground.

  4. Kale Care

    Apply liquid fertilizer every two weeks then water regularly for the best results.

Harvesting Kale

Now that you know how to grow kale from seed, the next step is harvesting the leaves.

How long does kale take to grow?

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.

Cutting the largest kale leaves first with kitchen scissors.

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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.

Try these recipes for Kale and Carrot Salad or Lemon and Ginger Kale Stirfry.

Kale Smoothies

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

Are you looking for more winter vegetables for your garden? Try these guides to growing Silverbeet, Broccoli or Cabbage.

For more information on growing your own food see this guide to Vegetable Gardening or Homesteading.

To Print or Save this guide on how to grow kale from seed, click the button below for the PDF File.

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