in , ,

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.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Plant sunchoke

Jerusalem Artichoke — Sunchoke Plant Starting Tips

Garlic Drying On Rack

How to Harvest and Store Garlic