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Grow Kale in Your Home Garden


Date Posted: May 17, 2016

Seeds of the Month Club by Mike the Gardener Grow Kale in Your Home Garden
photo credit: Mike the Gardener

Kale is often referred to by nutritionists and dieticians as a superfood. Who can argue? One cup of kale yields 133% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A and 134% of Vitamin C. Kale has become a foundation vegetable for a lot of juicing recipes, which is a very hot topic right now, and now comes in a lot of salad mixes you’ll see on your supermarket shelves.

However, kale is easy to grow at home. Here are some tips so you can enjoy this superfood right from your very own backyard.

When Do You Plant Kale

Kale is a great vegetable to grow in the home garden because it adapts very well to a lot of different climates. In my zone, here in zone 7a, I can grow kale throughout the winter in cold frames, and outside during the summer so long as I have well established plants that acclimate slowly to the rising temperatures. For me, that would be starting some kale seeds indoors around March, moving them outdoors in April and protecting the kale plants only on nights where there is going to be frost. In the accompanying video, the Premier kale was handled in this fashion, whereas the Tuscany Black kale was started from seed directly in the ground. More on that in a moment.

Grow Kale in Your Home Garden

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Preparing Your Soil for Your Kale

I wouldn’t classify kale as being a nutrient hog like other vegetables, but your kale will grow a lot healthier if you condition your soil before you plant. I like to mix in plenty of compost with my soil before planting the kale. This helps ensure that there are plenty of nutrients for my kale plants to grow and thrive. You can buy compost at your local garden center if you currently do not make any of your own. You can also mix in a good organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion.

Planting Your Kale

As noted above I used two methods for my kale this year. The first was moving the plants I started indoors, the Premier kale, to the outdoors, and direct seeding, Tuscany Black kale, which is planting the kale seeds directly into the garden bed.

Moving Established Kale Plants

Because kale tolerates cooler temperatures very well, I have found that they harden off (acclimate) rather easily. Once my kale plants are a few inches tall, I will move them outdoors during the day and bring them back in at night. I will do this for about a week, then plant them into the garden bed. If there is a possibility of frost, I will protect them with a garden cloche while they are still a bit smaller. Once they get about 4 to 6 inches tall, I have found that is no longer necessary.

Grow Kale in Your Home Garden

Direct Seeding Your Kale

Another fantastic way to grow kale is starting it from seed right in your garden bed. I am pretty fortunate here in zone 7a as I can do both methods. You simply plant the seeds in the desired spot and let mother nature do the rest. Just be sure to give your new seeds a good watering.

Spacing Your Kale Plants

As you can see in the video, my kale plants are spaced out about ten inches. You can go as little as 8, but I had plenty of space to work with so I decided to give them more. This spacing is true for both planting methods mentioned above.

Grow Kale in Your Home Garden


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Caring for Your Kale Plants

Kale is easy to take care of. A light watering about once per week is all it will need. Then, every 3 to 4 weeks, give your kale another feeding by applying more compost around the base of your plants or spraying in some organic fertilizer.

Grow Kale in Your Home Garden

Harvesting Your Kale

This is my favorite part, the time to harvest the kale and eat it. I like to snip off kale leaves as I am ready to consume them leaving the plants in tact so they continue to grow and produce. Some gardeners like to harvest the whole plant, and that is fine, but I like to only harvest what I know I will consume.

Happy gardening!


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Mike the gardener

About the Author

Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


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If you want to learn more about growing kale, check out these titles below:


KEYWORDS:

how to grow kale in containers, how to grow kale indoors, grow ornamental kale, how to grow kale hydroponically, how to grow kale from cuttings



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