How to Grow Kale

If you’re looking for more heart-healthy fall vegetables to grow, try growing kale (Brassica oleracea / Cruciferae). Another cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, kale is basically a non-heading species of cabbage that’s incredibly cold resistant and insanely healthy. Plus, believe it or not, kale actually has a great, earthy flavor that’s unlike any other.

How to Grow Kale

How to Grow KaleSince it’s the most cold hardy of the leafy greens, learning how to grow kale is actually quite easy. For the most part, to grow kale you just need to meet some minimal soil and temperature needs, and wait for plants to mature and sweeten throughout the fall and winter. If you’ve never tried planting kale before, here are a few no-nonsense tips to help you get the most from your kale crop:

  • Plant in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Sow kale seeds 1/2 inch deep, 3 inches apart, and in 18 to 24-inch rows.
  • Note to those in hotter climates: kale bolts quickly in heat, but, if allowed to go to seed, it can self-sow in cooler, moister climates (like the Northwest).
  • To harvest kale, remove leaves as needed and let the rest grow. Leaves can be harvested as soon as they are large enough to use.

Tips for Growing Kale

Growing Kale: Purple CultivarTry these tips to get the most from your kale crop:

  • For the best-tasting kale, enrich soil before planting and stop watering after the first frost.
  • Wait to harvest kale until the first frost or two has passed. This will improve the flavor of your crop.
  • To avoid tearing damage to stems, use a knife to or scissors to cut off leaves.

For growing specifications for growing kale (like preferred soil pH, planting depths and germination rates), check out the Gardening Guides page.

Images graciously provided by Bobbi Bowers and Randy Robertson. Thanks!


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