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Kale Growing Quick Tips

Kale Copy

Kale is a cool-season crop. Plant kale in early spring and late summer. Take these kale growing tips to the garden:

Sowing Kale

  • Sow kale seeds in the garden 5 weeks before to 2 weeks before the last expected frost in spring for a summer crop.
  • If you are in a very cold region you can start seeds indoors 5 weeks before setting plants in the garden.
  • You can start seed in a protected seedbed or cold frame rather than indoors.
  • For an autumn and winter crop, start seed 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost.
  • Kale is very hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C) once established.
  • Sow seeds ½” (13 mm) deep.
  • Seedlings emerge in 5-7 days at 40-70°F (4-21°C).
Lacinato or Tuscan kale in an organic garden
Lacinato or Tuscan kale in an organic garden

Growing Kale

  • Thin plants in the garden 12″ (30 cm) apart in rows 12-15” (30-38 cm) apart.
  • Grow kale in compost-rich, well-drained soil, in full sun.
  • Give kale regular water keeping the soil evenly moist.
  • After plants have reached 6” (15 cm) tall, place straw around the stems to prevent direct contact with the soil.
  • Avoid growing kale during the heat of summer; heat will turn the leaves bitter.

Harvesting Kale

  • Kale will be ready for harvest 55-75 days from direct seeding.
  • Harvest kale during the cool time of the year–from autumn through the winter to mid-spring in most regions.
  • Clip individual leaves when they reach about 8” (20 cm) long.
  • Pick individual outside leaves while still young and tender.
  • Inside leaves are generally tastier than outside leaves.
  • Cut the whole plant before it bolts in hot weather.
  • Store kale in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or blanch and freeze for up to 6 months.

Detailed tips at How to Grow Kale.

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