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How to grow kale

How to grow kale

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, and it's also one of the healthiest vegetables to grow in your garden. Kale grows best in cool temperatures and is harvested during the fall and winter months when other plants are dormant. If you know how to grow kale in your garden, you'll be rewarded with fresh greens all year long.

Know your climate

Because kale is a cool-season crop, you need to know the climate in your area before planting. Here are some tips for choosing the right climate:

  • Hot and dry: If you live in an area that gets hot and dry during summer, look for a variety of kale that's tolerant of heat. Some options include 'Red Russian,' 'Winterbor,' or 'Weld.' You can also try planting in raised beds with good drainage or containers filled with potting soil instead of garden soil.

  • Hot and humid: Areas with warm summers and high humidity should opt for a variety like 'Lacinato' or 'Blue Curled Scotch,' which are both resistant to diseases such as black leg—a bacterial infection caused by damp conditions (aka wet feet).

  • Cool and wet: Kale may be able to withstand cold temperatures but it doesn't do well in consistently soggy soil. Opt for varieties such as ‘Giant Winter’ if your area gets frequent rain showers during cooler months; this type needs minimal irrigation because it has fewer surface roots than other types of kale.

  • Cold (but not freezing) winters: If you live somewhere where temperatures dip below freezing on occasion but don't get down into single digits year round, go ahead and plant your seeds! Just be sure they'll have enough time before winter hits so they can grow big enough before frost comes along.

Pick a suitable variety

Before you start growing kale, it helps to pick a variety that's right for your climate and growing season. Kale is hearty enough to grow year-round in many areas, but the different varieties have different times when they're most productive.

If you live in an area with mild winters and early springs, consider green- or red-leaved types such as 'Lacinato' (also called "dinosaur kale"), 'Red Russian' or 'Nero di Toscana.' These will grow well from spring through fall! If you're lucky enough to be able to plant at least two successive crops every year and have cold winters, try purple-leaved varieties like 'Redbor,' which will produce nice big leaves even after frost hits the ground.

Space plants properly

To plant kale, you will need to space rows or groups of plants in different ways. For the best quality, plant kale in beds where it can grow its roots deep into the soil.

Planting kale in rows is also a good option for growing this vegetable. This method is good for beginners because it allows you to control spacing better than planting in beds does. To space plants properly, measure out about 15 inches between each row and allow about 12 inches between plants within these rows.

If you are planting more than one row at a time, space them evenly across your garden bed so that they do not overlap or impede each other's growth potentials. You can also make sure to leave plenty of room between the outside edges of your individual rows and other structures such as fences or buildings (a distance equal to twice their width) so that they don't overcrowd their neighbors' spaces either!

Ensure correct soil drainage.

  • Kale grows best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.

  • Add compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil.

  • If your soil is too sandy or clay-like, you can add sand or peat moss for texture (one cup of each for every two square feet of bed).

Temperature control

In order to grow kale all year, you’ll need a greenhouse. But not just any old greenhouse—you’ll want to make sure that the temperature can be controlled. You can accomplish this by using various methods of heating and cooling your glass house:

  • Heating: It may sound counterintuitive to turn on the heat in winter as you're trying to keep your plants warm, but some greenhouses come with built-in heaters that will help regulate temperatures in the cooler months. These are an especially useful feature if you live somewhere where there are prolonged periods of below-freezing temperatures during the winter months.

  • Cooling: Greenhouses can also be equipped with air conditioning units for hot summer days when it gets too hot for outdoor plants like kale or chard. This might seem like a strange thing for someone who doesn't live near either coast (where many greenhouses are located) would do—but if you're growing a variety of vegetables indoors, sometimes it's worth having them close enough together so they benefit from each other's shade!

Water appropriately

Watering frequency depends on the weather. If the plants are in an area that gets a lot of sun and heat, water them more often (at least 4 times a week). If it's cold outside, water less frequently (once a week or less). When it rains, you should also decrease how much you water your kale.

Pests and diseases

If you want to keep your kale plants pest- and disease-free, make sure you're on the lookout for signs of trouble. Look for things like wilting leaves or holes in leaves, which can indicate a caterpillar infestation; brown spots on leaves that are growing near the ground, which can mean fungal diseases such as powdery mildew; and yellowish patches of mold on stems and leaves. If you notice any of these problems early enough, you may be able to treat them with organic pest control before they spread too far or cause too much damage.

Organic pest control will involve spraying your kale with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to kill off whatever critter has been munching on it. You should also rotate crops in order to avoid letting pests build up resistance over time—if there's nothing else around but kale, they'll have no reason not to stick around! You could also use crop covers during periods when pests tend to be more active (for example: fall). This works best if the cover is light enough that it doesn't mess up photosynthesis (that's why this method isn't recommended for heavy blocks).

A barrier can also help keep out pesky creatures who might otherwise find their way into your garden space; just make sure not block sunlight from reaching plant roots! Finally: traps! Traps are great because once again we don't need expensive chemicals—just something as simple as tossing some fermented fruit juice into an old jar with holes poked all around its surface so flies get trapped inside when they try going after those sweet treats (but not so many holes that other smaller insects like ants end up becoming prisoners).

Harvest at the correct time

  • Harvest your kale at the proper time to ensure that it stays as fresh and tasty as possible.

  • Harvest when the plant is at its peak. Kale plants typically reach their maximum size in late summer through early fall, so harvest them when they're ready to take off.

  • Harvest when the leaves are at their most tender. Young kale leaves are more tender than older ones, which tend to be tougher and have a stronger flavor; it's also easier for younger leaves to keep from wilting if you harvest them from your garden on a rainy day instead of while they're wet out of doors (to prevent damage)

  • Harvest before curling starts occurring on some varieties like Redbor or Italian types like Toscano. Italian varieties may begin curling soon after being picked but will become tough faster than other types


Hopefully, you’re now ready to get started on your next kale crop! We hope we’ve given you some useful tips that will help you grow healthy, delicious kale plants. As always, it’s important to remember that growing food is a long-term investment—and it takes patience and care. If you follow these tips, though, we think you’ll be rewarded with a great harvest in no time at all.