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When to Plant Kale

Kale seedlings in starter tray

Kale is a hardy cool-weather crop. It can be grown in early spring and in mid to late autumn. Kale tastes especially good after it has been touched by frost.

Sow kale seeds in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Start transplants 6 to 8 weeks before setting out in the garden. Transplants can be set in the garden 5 weeks before to 2 weeks after the last frost.

Kale thrives in loamy soil with some aged compost or aged manure added. Light sandy soil and heavy clay soil can adversely affect leaf flavor. Kale can tolerate partial shade.

Kale is a heavy feeder and needs medium to high amounts of potassium.

Kale reaches maturity 55 to 65days after sowing, but you can start harvesting as soon as leaves are edible size. Pick kale when the leaves are bright green and crisp; old leaves are dark green, bitter, and tough.

kale grow plant
Kale in garden

Kale seed sowing dates for early season harvest

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 20Jan. 1-Feb. 1
Feb. 8Jan. 10-Feb. 1
Feb. 18Jan. 20-Feb. 10
Feb. 28Feb. 1-20
Mar. 10Feb. 10-Mar. 1
Mar. 20Feb. 20-Mar. 10
Mar. 30Mar. 1-20
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 1
Apr. 20Mar. 20-Apr. 10
Apr. 30Apr. 1-20
May 10Apr. 10-May 1
May 20Apr. 20-May 10
May 30May 1-30
June 10May 15-June 1
Tuscan kale grow plant
Tuscan kale

Kale planting details

  • Sowing depth: ½ inch (12mm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 15-18 inches (30-45cm)
  • Days to sprout: 5-10
  • Days to harvest: 55-65 days for mature plants; small plants can be harvested at edible size
  • Storage period: 2-4 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet: ½ ounce (14 grams)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 50 pounds (20kg)
  • Varieties: Vates Blue Curled, Dwarf Blue Scotch, Konserva, Siberian, Tuscan

Related articles of interest:

How to Grow Kale

Kale Seed Starting Tips

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. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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