September 24


A comprehensive guide to growing kale: step-by-step from seed to harvest

How to grow kale – from seed to harvesting

If you’re looking for ways to diversify your garden or add some green to your kitchen, why not try growing kale? This black-leafed vegetable is not only easy to grow, but it also has many health benefits. According to horticulturalist Karen Leigh, kale grows best in cool weather conditions and can be harvested all year round, making it a versatile addition to any garden.

To start growing kale, you can either sow seeds directly into the ground or start with seedlings. If you choose to sow seeds, it’s best to sow them indoors about six weeks before the last frost date. This means that if you live in an area with a long winter, you can start planting in July and enjoy fresh kale harvests all the way until the next winter.

Kale is a hardy vegetable that can tolerate light frost and even grows better in cooler temperatures. However, it also needs plenty of light to grow well. If you have limited sunlight in your garden, you can grow kale in raised beds or containers, which can be moved around to catch the best light. Leigh suggests providing at least six hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth.

When kale seedlings are about 5cm tall, they can be transplanted into the garden. They should be spaced about 45cm apart to give each plant enough room to grow. Before planting, it’s a good idea to amend the soil with compost to improve its fertility and drainage. Kale plants also benefit from regular watering, especially during dry spells.

One of the great things about kale is that it is relatively pest-resistant. Its tough, coarse leaves are not very appealing to pests like birds and insects. However, if you do notice any pests, there are natural pest control methods you can try, such as companion planting with herbs or using organic sprays.

Once you have planted kale in your garden, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of disease or nutrient deficiencies. Kale is susceptible to diseases like black rot and powdery mildew, but with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your plants healthy and productive.

Harvesting kale is a simple process. You can begin harvesting the outer leaves when the plant is around 8-10 weeks old, taking care not to remove all the leaves as this will stunt its growth. By removing the mature leaves regularly, you will encourage the plant to continue producing new leaves. Kale can be harvested over a long period of time, providing you with a continuous supply.

Growing kale is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy fresh, nutritious greens right from your own garden. Whether you prefer to add it to salads, smoothies, or cooked dishes, kale is a versatile vegetable that can be used in many recipes. So why not give it a try and start growing your own kale today?

“Kale is a great addition to any garden. Its dark, leafy greens are not only good for you, but they also add a splash of color to your garden.” – Karen Leigh

If you want to learn more about growing kale or get more gardening tips, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for expert advice and the latest trends in gardening and horticulture. Simply enter your email address below to receive our monthly newsletter straight to your inbox.

When do you plant kale

Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is easy to grow and highly versatile in the kitchen. If you want to start growing your own kale, the best time to plant it is in the spring or fall when the weather is cool. Kale is a cool-season crop that prefers temperatures between 60°F (15°C) and 70°F (21°C).

Sowing kale seeds

Sowing kale seeds

You can start kale seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area. This will give them enough time to establish and grow before transplanting them into the garden. To start kale seeds indoors, fill seed trays or pots with a well-draining potting mix or a mixture of compost and vermiculite. Sow the kale seeds about half an inch deep and keep the soil moist.

If you prefer, you can also sow kale seeds directly in the ground. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and thin them to a spacing of 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) between plants once they have germinated.

Planting kale seedlings

When your kale seedlings have grown to about 3 to 4 inches tall, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun and has well-draining soil enriched with compost. If you have poor soil, you can improve it by adding compost or well-rotted manure before planting.

If you are planting kale in a raised bed or container, make sure it has enough space for the plants to grow. A 12-inch (30cm) deep container is sufficient for growing kale.

The best time to plant kale

In most countries, the best time to plant kale is in the early spring or fall. This will give your kale plants enough time to grow and mature before the temperatures get too hot or cold. In the UK, for example, kale can be sown in March and April for harvests from July to October.

Kale is a cold-hardy vegetable that can tolerate light frost and even become sweeter after a frost. However, it’s best to protect your kale plants from severe frost by covering them with a frost cloth or straw.

Keeping a continuous supply of kale

To keep a continuous supply of kale throughout the growing season, you can make successive plantings every few weeks. This will ensure that you have fresh kale to enjoy in your kitchen all year long.

By learning when to plant kale, you can enjoy this versatile vegetable in your garden and on your plate. Start your kale seeds or seedlings at the right time and watch them grow into nutritious and delicious additions to your meals.

How do you start kale seeds

Starting kale seeds is the best way to ensure a successful kale harvest. Karen Leigh, a horticulturalist and gardening expert, says that starting seeds indoors is the easiest and most effective means of growing kale.

First, it’s important to choose the right variety of kale. Karen recommends black kale or Nero di Toscana, as it grows well in most gardens.

Kale seeds can be started indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. This gives the seeds enough time to establish themselves before being transplanted into the garden. Place the seeds in seed starting trays or small pots filled with compost. Make sure to water them well and keep them in a warm, well-lit area.

Kale is a versatile and cold-hardy vegetable that can be grown year-round in many parts of the country. It grows best in cool weather, with temperatures between 40-75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can tolerate light frosts and even grows sweeter after a frost.

Once the kale seedlings have grown to be about 2-3 inches tall, they can be transplanted outdoors. Leigh recommends spacing the plants about 18-24 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth.

Kale is a member of the brassica family, which means it is prone to certain pests, such as cabbageworms. To protect your kale plants, cover them with a lightweight row cover or netting. This will keep the pests from laying their eggs on the leaves.

Kale leaves can be harvested when they are still young and tender, or when they have reached their full size. To harvest, simply cut the outer leaves from each plant, and the plant will continue to produce more leaves.

If you prefer sweeter kale, you can wait until after the first frost to harvest. The cold weather stimulates the plant to convert starches into sugars, making the kale taste sweeter.

Kale grows well both in full sun and partial shade, but it prefers at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. If you live in a hot climate, kale will appreciate some afternoon shade to protect it from the intense heat.

To learn more about growing kale, you can sign up for Karen Leigh’s gardening newsletter. She regularly shares tips, trends, and expert advice on growing a variety of vegetables, including kale. Simply enter your email address on her website, and you’ll receive her newsletters directly to your inbox.

Kale is not only delicious and nutritious, but also highly decorative. It produces attractive blooms that can add beauty to your garden or even be used in floral arrangements. The blooms also attract pollinators and birds to your garden.


  • Start kale seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date.
  • Choose a variety such as black kale or Nero di Toscana.
  • Transplant the seedlings outdoors once they are 2-3 inches tall.
  • Protect the plants from pests like cabbageworms with row covers or netting.
  • Harvest the leaves when they are young and tender, or after the first frost for sweeter flavor.
  • Provide the plants with 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Sign up for Karen Leigh’s gardening newsletter for more information and tips on growing kale and other vegetables.
  • Enjoy kale’s decorative blooms and the wildlife they attract to your garden.

How long does it take to grow kale from seed

When it comes to growing kale from seed, it usually takes around 3 to 4 weeks for the seeds to germinate. This means that you can start harvesting your kale leaves in as little as a month after planting the seeds.

Kale is a cold-weather plant that prefers cool temperatures and can grow in both full sun and partial shade. It has many health properties and is a popular vegetable in the kitchen. According to Karen, a horticulturalist and editor of a gardening magazine, “Kale is a versatile vegetable that can be used in many dishes. It grows well in both raised beds and ground gardens.”

Kale seeds can be sown directly into the ground or started indoors in seed trays. If you choose to start them indoors, Leigh, an experienced gardener, recommends using a good quality seed starting mix and keeping the trays in a well-lit area.

Kale is a member of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. It is known for its ability to tolerate frost, so it can be planted early in the spring or late in the fall. In fact, some people prefer the taste of kale after it has been exposed to frost, as it becomes sweeter.

When planting kale, make sure to space the seeds or seedlings at least 18 inches apart. This allows enough room for the plants to grow and develop without overcrowding. It also helps to prevent the spread of pests such as cabbageworms.

Kale is a fairly low-maintenance plant. It requires regular watering, especially in dry conditions, and benefits from a layer of compost or organic mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. However, be careful not to overwater, as kale prefers slightly dry conditions.

Once your kale plants reach around 6-8 inches tall, you can start harvesting the outer leaves. Simply cut them off just above the soil surface, and the plant will continue to produce new leaves for multiple harvests throughout the growing season.

According to an expert from a gardening magazine, kale can be grown year-round in many parts of the country, including Enfield. In colder winter conditions, kale may slow down its growth but will continue to thrive.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, kale is a great addition to any garden. With its ability to grow quickly from seed and its many health benefits, it’s no wonder that kale has become such a popular vegetable in recent years. So why not give it a try and grow your own kale at home?

Is kale easy to grow

Growing kale is an enjoyable and versatile experience for gardeners of all levels. Whether you have a large garden or just a small one, kale can be a great addition to your vegetable patch.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and produces large, dark green leaves that can be harvested from July all the way through to winter. It is highly nutritious and has many health benefits, making it a popular choice for both gardeners and chefs.

If you’re new to gardening, kale is a good vegetable to start with as it is fairly easy to grow. It can tolerate a range of conditions and is quite hardy, meaning it can withstand cold weather. This makes it a good option for those living in colder parts of the country.

Kale grows best in full sun, but it can also tolerate some shade. If you have a shady spot in your garden, you can still grow kale, although the leaves may not be as large and the plants may take longer to grow.

To grow kale, you can start by sowing the seeds directly into the ground in early spring. Alternatively, you can sow them indoors in February or March and then transplant them outside once the weather warms up.

It’s important to note that kale plants need plenty of space to grow, so make sure to give them at least 45cm of space between each plant. You can also grow kale in raised beds or containers if you have limited space.

Kale plants are fairly low-maintenance, but like any vegetable, they need regular watering and feeding. Make sure to water the plants thoroughly, especially during dry spells, and feed them with compost or a balanced fertilizer every few weeks.

Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are large enough to be picked. The leaves can be harvested individually, starting from the bottom of the plant and working your way up. As the weather gets colder, the kale leaves will become sweeter and more tender, so you can continue to enjoy fresh harvests well into winter.

There are many ways to enjoy kale in the kitchen. You can use it in salads, soups, stir-fries, or even bake it into crispy kale chips. Its finely textured leaves make it a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes.

In summary, kale is an easy vegetable to grow that offers a range of health benefits. It can be grown in a variety of conditions and can be enjoyed year-round. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert gardener, kale is a great addition to any garden.

Does kale come back every year

One of the great things about growing kale is that it is a hardy and resilient plant that can come back year after year. However, whether or not kale will come back every year depends on a few factors including the country you live in, the climate, and the specific variety of kale you are growing.

Countries with year-round kale

In countries with mild and temperate climates like the United States, kale can often come back year after year without needing to be replanted. In these regions, kale can be treated as a perennial and will continue to grow and produce leaves for multiple years.

Countries with cold winters

Countries with cold winters

In countries with cold winters where the ground freezes, kale is often grown as an annual. This means that the plant is grown from seed each year and harvested before the winter weather arrives. However, kale can still tolerate cold temperatures and can often be harvested well into the winter months.

Starting kale indoors

Starting kale indoors

To ensure a continuous supply of kale, many gardeners start their kale indoors from seed. By starting the seeds indoors and transplanting the seedlings into the garden, you can get a head start on the growing season and ensure a longer harvest.

  • Sow kale seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
  • When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin them to about 6 inches apart.
  • Transplant the seedlings into the garden when they have four to six true leaves.
  • Space the transplants about 12 inches apart to allow for their growth.
  • Kale grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate some shade.

Harvesting kale

Kale can be harvested at any stage of growth, but for the best flavor, it is recommended to harvest the leaves when they are young and tender. You can start harvesting kale leaves when they are about 2-3 inches long, or you can wait until the plant is fully mature and harvest the entire head.

  • To harvest kale leaves, simply cut the outer leaves at the base of the stem. The plant will continue to produce more leaves for you to enjoy.
  • If you prefer to harvest the entire head, cut the stem at the base of the plant. The plant will not grow back, but you can replant new seedlings for future harvests.

Whether kale comes back every year in your garden will depend on a variety of factors, but with proper care and attention, you can enjoy fresh kale from your garden for many years to come.

Can you grow kale in containers or raised beds

When it comes to growing kale, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need a traditional garden to enjoy this tasty brassica. Kale can be grown in containers or raised beds with great success, making it a versatile vegetable for all types of gardeners.

Kale is a cold-hardy plant that tolerates low temperatures and even frost, so it’s an excellent choice for planting in containers or raised beds. According to gardening expert Karen, kale enjoys cool conditions, which means it can be sown as early as spring or even before winter in some areas.

Start by sowing kale seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds finely on the surface of the seed-starting mix and lightly cover them with a layer of soil. Keep the containers in a sunny location and water regularly to keep the soil moist. In about 2-3 weeks, you should see the seedlings emerge.

Once the seedlings have grown to about 2 inches tall, you can transplant them into larger containers or raised beds. Kale plants prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. You can improve the soil by adding compost or aged manure before planting. Make sure the containers or raised beds receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day for optimal growth.

Kale is a highly versatile vegetable that grows well in containers and raised beds. One popular variety is “Nero di Toscana,” also known as Tuscan kale or black kale. This variety has long, dark green leaves with a texture that is both tender and sturdy. And the best part? The colder temperatures of fall and winter actually make the leaves sweeter and more flavorful.

Growing kale in containers or raised beds also has the added benefit of minimizing common gardening pests such as birds or rabbits. The elevated height of the containers or raised beds makes it harder for these critters to reach the plants and feast on the leaves.

With kale, you can easily harvest the outer leaves as needed, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing for future harvests. This means you can enjoy fresh kale straight from your garden all season long.

So whether you have a small balcony, a sunny patio, or a full backyard, you can grow kale in containers or raised beds to enjoy this nutritious and delicious vegetable.

Recommended kale varieties

If you’re ready to start growing kale in your garden, there are several varieties that come highly recommended. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, these kale varieties will provide you with delicious and nutritious harvests.

Nero di Toscana

Nero di Toscana, also known as Black Tuscan or Tuscan kale, is a popular variety. It has dark green leaves that are finely curled, making it a visually appealing addition to your garden. This variety is known for its sweet flavor and tender texture. Nero di Toscana is a cold-hardy kale and can withstand frosty conditions, making it ideal for growing in cooler climates.

Red Russian

Red Russian kale is another great variety to consider. It has flat, serrated leaves that are green with purple veins. This kale variety is known for its mild and slightly sweet flavor. Red Russian kale is also cold-hardy and can tolerate light frost. It grows quickly and can be harvested throughout the growing season.

Curly Green

Curly Green kale is a classic variety that is easy to grow. It has tight, curly leaves that are dark green, and it is a member of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage and broccoli. Curly Green kale is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups. It is cold-hardy and can be harvested well into the winter months.


Winterbor kale is a hardy variety that is highly resistant to cold weather. It has curly, blue-green leaves and grows in tight, compact bunches. Winterbor kale is known for its slightly bitter flavor, which becomes sweeter after a frost. This variety is perfect for gardeners in colder regions or those who want to enjoy kale well into the winter months.


Scarlet kale is a vibrant variety that adds a pop of color to your garden. It has green leaves with purple veins and stems. Scarlet kale is known for its tender leaves and mild flavor. It is a cold-hardy variety that can withstand frost. This variety is great for salads, stir-fries, and adding color to your vegetable dishes.

When choosing the best kale variety for your garden, consider your local climate and growing conditions. Some kale varieties prefer colder temperatures and can withstand frost, while others thrive in milder climates. With the right variety and growing conditions, you can enjoy fresh kale from your garden all year round.

Common problems when growing kale


Kale is a hardy vegetable that can withstand frost, but it is important to protect young seedlings from freezing temperatures. If you live in an area with severe winters, start your kale seedlings indoors before the last frost date and transplant them outdoors when the weather is more favorable. You can also use row covers or cloches to protect your kale plants from frost.

Poor winter conditions

In areas with mild winters, kale can be grown year-round. However, in colder regions, kale may die off during the winter months. To extend your kale harvests, you can mulch around the base of the plants to insulate the roots and provide some protection against freezing temperatures. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and cover your plants with row covers or cloches when frost is expected.


While kale plants need regular watering, overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases. Make sure the soil is well-drained and only water when the top inch of soil is dry. Wet and soggy soil can cause the roots to rot, leading to stunted growth and poor harvests.

Poor soil quality

Kale prefers rich, fertile soil that is high in organic matter. Before planting your kale seedlings or sowing seeds, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility. A pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 is ideal for kale growth.

Pest problems

Kale plants can be affected by various pests, including aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pest infestation and take appropriate measures to control them. You can use organic insecticides, such as neem oil, or introduce predatory insects, like ladybugs, to keep pest populations in check.

Disease susceptibility

Disease susceptibility

Kale belongs to the brassica family, which is prone to certain diseases, such as clubroot, black rot, and downy mildew. To minimize the risk of disease, practice crop rotation and avoid planting kale or other brassicas in the same spot year after year. If you notice any signs of disease, remove and dispose of the infected plants to prevent the spread.



Kale is a sun-loving vegetable and requires at least six hours of direct sunlight for optimum growth. If your garden is shaded or receives limited sunlight, consider growing kale in containers or raised beds that can be placed in sunnier spots.

Poor planting timing

Timing is crucial when it comes to planting kale. Depending on your location and local weather conditions, it is recommended to sow kale seeds or transplant seedlings either in early spring or late summer. Planting at the right time ensures that your kale plants have the best chance of thriving and producing abundant harvests.

By addressing these common problems, you can ensure a successful kale harvest and enjoy this versatile green vegetable throughout the year.


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