Kale belongs to the mustard family that itself holds more than 19 species, eight taxa, and several varieties cultivate across the US. How to grow Kale ? Continue reading to find out. Kale has also named leaf cabbage, and their cultivars are widespread for edible leaves.
Kale is very close to wild cabbage that grows in a variety of climate conditions. Other members of this family include pak choi, mustard, broccoli, cabbages, Brussel sprouts, and kohlrabi. Several Kale varieties are further classified based on the length of their stem along with types and colors of leaves. Kale leaf may vary in color from light to dark green, dark green to violet-green, and dark green to violet-brown.
Kalettes are the recent introduction in the mustard family as a result of traditional breeding between Brussels sprouts and the Kales. Kalettes are highly nutritious plants that are consumed raw or cooked in multiple food recipes.
Kale is highly adaptable to grow in USDA-Hardiness Zones 7 to 9. Otherwise is cultivated in Zones 2 through 8. Kale grows as both annual and biennial vegetables that can reach up to 2 feet in height and similar in the spread. Flowering is showy and often yellow.
Kale loves cold weather that brings sweeter taste and crispier texture to its leaves when permitted to grow in early spring or late summer. The majority of kale varieties mature between 55 to 75 days when planted using seeds. It is primitive to cultivate them looking on the local snow calendars and considering the dates for the 1st and last frost in your planting zone.
Fall kale is seeded in June and transplanted 6-7 weeks before the 1st frost to get superior growth and taste. Whereas, Winter Kale would probably grow in the zones where winters are mild. These zones would need out planting kale plants from September to February. Spring kale needs planting varieties that are a bit tolerant to a high temperature. But, their produce is often better.
Kale is moderately easy to grow, and we will let you know how to grow kale indoors, how to grow kale in a container, and how to grow kale from cuttings. Before that, we need to know to focus on the growth factors that help you achieving better produce in any of the selected environments.
Soil and pH:
Kale prefers growing in a rich, well-drained soil having acidic to slightly alkaline pH ranging between 5.5 to 6.8. Although kale plants do well in full sunlight, they need shade when growing in warmer climates. Anyhow, the best taste and flavor achieves under cold weather conditions. Organic soil having a pH range of 5.0 to 5.5 are also best for its classical growth. Usually, the pH in most mineral soils is above the optimum pH range. If there exists any want to correct the soil pH, adding a Lime or dolomite becomes necessary. For increasing 1 unit in the pH level, 200-250 grams of dolomite or lime is added and incorporated into a 1-square foot area in the garden beds. For the alkaline soils, to lower 1 unit of soil pH the preferred dose of elemental Sulphur is 20-25 grams per square foot. Having a hand-held pH meter is complimentary for regularly checking soil pH, at least once in three months. Otherwise, the addition of 1 Kg of compost per square foot is recommended that will only keep the moisture but will help kale plants to fix Nitrogen, Potash, and Phosphorus for its development and growth. Be sure that the compost you add to your garden beds is fully-sterilized. Otherwise, there are always threats of weeds and soil-borne diseases when bringing compost from a non-trusted source.
Kale prefers temperature ranges between 55–75°F during the entire growth cycle. Germination is highly supportive with slightly upper temperatures, i.e. 75°F. Young plants and seedlings prefer growing at 60°F. overall, the optimum range is between 60–70°F for best production and taste, that peoples love. Installing a temperature and humidity meter could update you on the changing climate of your garden.
Once you know all the growing requirements, you’re free to choose how and where you want to grow kale plants in your selected environment.
It is the first step that determines your will to go ahead. Nursery trays are with variable sizes and multiple holes. You can select one according to your requirements. You need to fill the available nursery tray with a potting mixture softly and leveling it afterward using a wooden stick to the upper level. Pinch a hole in potting mixtures using your finger. Place 2-3 seeds per hole, ½ inches deep, and fill this gap with potting mix again. Do press potting mixtures gently, apply water on the surface to get it soaked. Place the nursery trays in the dark at 75°F until it completes germination in 7 days. Keep it watering a little every day till they sprout. After completing the emergence, your seedlings will be ready to transplant in a container or garden bed in about 5-6 weeks.
Transplanting Seedling in Garden Beds:
While transplanting, add and mix fertilizer with 3-4 inches of topsoil. Then, feed your kale plants with nitrogen rich fertilizer throughout its growth. Prepare already available beds, or you may use a raised bed to plant. Turn the upper 8 inches of soil and clear if some weed is germinating there. Dig a suitable hole that fits the root ball. Space your plants 12 to 18 inches apart in a row spacing 24 inches apart. Fit the root ball into the hole and press gently by filling it with potting soil. Apply sufficient water immediately after transplanting your kale plants. Kale needs regular watering. To conserve water and save weeds, you may apply black mulch on surface soil with a hole for subsequent watering.
How to Grow Kale in a Container?
Some kale varieties grow more than 2 feet tall. Consider a short or medium stature variety for growing in a container. Much asking size for the container is (12*12 inches) with suitable size holes in the base. Container planted kale needs fertilizing after every two weeks since a lot of nutrients get flushed out with regular watering.
How to grow Kale indoors?
Growing kale plants indoors is pretty easy if you have control over the temperature, light, and humidity. It can grow in a container or pot by placing it in the window that faces the South provided that the plant gets 8 hours of sunlight. Otherwise, it needs light supplementation with an artificial resource such as a full spectrum LED Grow Light. Dwarf varieties are preferred while growing indoors.
How to Grow Kale from cuttings?
Since kale is a biennial plant that can grow from cuttings, easily. Take a shoot measuring 5-6 inches from the main stem having 4-5 leaflets. Trim lower two leaves and bury its stem 2-3 inches deep into the gardening beds or potting mix. It may start sprouting within a week.
Diseases and Pests:
Be careful with Bacterial Leaf Spot. Powdery mildew, Downy mildew, Damping off, and Club Root since they considerably damage the harvest quality of the produce. Similarly, Aphids, slugs, Cabbage Loopers, leaf miners, and flea beetles are the most prevalent garden pests on kale plants. Careful monitoring of garden pests is needed. Otherwise, fungicides and insecticides application become necessary to coop with them.
Kale is ready to harvest in 55-65 days after transplanting from seedlings. Direct-seeded plants mature in 75 days. Harvesting kale will be appreciable after experiencing the first frost in Autumn that brings a sweeter taste and makes leaves the crunchier. Favorable leaf picking a size is between 6 to 8 inches long. Leaves on the outer circle are picked at priority while the central leaves continue to produce more leaflets.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.