Once you know how to grow kale from seeds there’s no going back. It’s healthy and tasty, easy to cultivate and looks good in your garden. What’s not to like?
It’s easy to grow kale from seed, too. Also known as borecole, kale is a member of the cabbage family, a brassica. It is hardy and grows best in cooler temperatures – the cold weather gives the leaves a sweeter flavor.
Kale is the original superfood. It contains fiber, calcium, vitamins C and K, iron and antioxidants, plus many other beneficial nutrients. It is a versatile green that can be fried, steamed, and even oven-roasted to make a healthy vegetable snack. The young leaves can be eaten raw as a salad or added to smoothies.
Below you can learn how to grow kale from seeds. Keep reading!!
Varieties of Kale to Grow
Cavolo Nero – sometimes regarded as a different plant altogether, but it is a type of kale and its name means ‘black kale’, or black cabbage. ‘Nero di Toscana’ has dark, almost black leaves.
Redbor – Vivid burgundy-colored leaves on a striking plant that would look good in a flowerbed let alone a vegetable patch. The leaves turn an intense shade of purple as the weather turns colder.
Kapitan – the classic curly kale, with densely curled, deep green leaves
When to Grow Kale
Kale grows well in a temperature range from 35 to 75 degrees, but is happiest between 60 to 70°F. It is generally considered a ‘cool season crop’, like its fellow members of the brassica plant family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.
In most locations, kale has two distinct growing seasons: spring and fall. Yet in moderate climates with only mildly warm summers or little-to-no winter frost, kale can continue to grow for up to a year, or longer! Kale grows exceedingly well as a fall crop in many regions – where there is a longer period of cooling weather ahead. That is because kale is less tolerant of extreme heat than it is of cold. In fact, kale leaves taste better in colder weather, and develop a sweeter flavor after a kiss of frost!
Starting Kale Seeds
Though kale will produce in warm weather, it has a tendency to become woody and bitter. It’s best when allowed to mature in cool temps. Start spring seeds indoors approximately six weeks before the last frost to give plants a chance to mature before summer’s worst heat.
Direct seeds will mature in 55 to 75 days, while transplants will speed up the process, ready for harvest in about 30 to 40 days. Plant your crop again in the fall, six to eight weeks before the first expected frost — you can keep harvesting even after snowfall. Plant more seeds or transplants every two to three weeks for a long, continuous harvest.
Kale can be grown as a cut-and-come-again crop. Young tender leaves can be harvested for salads. If left to mature for winter greens, plants can be left in the ground through the winter and picked as required for soups and stews.
Kale leaves are best used when freshly picked. However, they can be blanched and then frozen to store for later use.
Common Kale Pests
The most common pest insects that fancy kale include cabbage worms, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, and aphids. The first three will cause holes or lacing in the leaves, while sap-sucking aphids cause curling leaves. Kale pests often hide on the underside of leaves, or in the center cluster of new growth. Slugs, snails, or soil-dwelling pests like cutworms may go after small seedlings, which are also prone to damping off (or sudden seedling death).