Growing Kale

Kale is a cool-weather crop that grows best in fall. It will last through the winter as far north as Maryland and central Indiana. Frost even improves the flavor. Kale doesn't tolerate the heat as well as collards. If your area has cold winters, plant for summer to early fall harvest. In the South, plant for harvest in late fall or winter.

Brian Reed
Kale grows best in fertile, well-drained soil.

Plant kale from transplants early in the spring, and again in the midsummer if your summers aren't too hot. Kale likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plant transplants that are four to six weeks old. If the transplants are leggy or the stems are crooked, plant deeply so they don't become top-heavy. Plant transplants 8 to 12 inches apart. If you're planting seeds, set them 1/2 inch deep; thin them to 12 inches apart.

Harvesting Kale

The time from planting to harvest is 55 days from transplants, 70 to 80 days from seed. Leave kale in the garden until needed, but harvest before it gets old and tough. As the plant matures, take outside leaves, leaving the inner ones to grow. Or, cut off the entire plant.

Types of Kale

There are several varieties of kale to choose from when considering which to grow in your home garden.
We've listed the different varieties of kale below.
  • Dwarf Blue Curled Vates, harvest at 55 days, produces short-stemmed plants with finely curled, bluish-green leaves.
  • Dwarf Siberian Curled, harvest at 65 days, has upright gray-green leaves.
  • Winterbar, harvest at 65 days, is frilly, bluegreen, and tasty.
  • Redbar is similar but purple.
Keep reading to learn how to select and prepare kale.

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