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Growing Kale

Beautiful, Tasty and Nutritious Cooking Greens

Subspecies: Brassica oleracea

growing kaleKale leaves are most often eaten raw, cooked, steamed, or fried. Growing kale can be done year round in many locations. It will tolerate frost and snow.

It comes in a variety of colors and is used as an ornamental plant as well as a vegetable. It can be planted in landscape arrangements and hold its beauty through the fall and into the winter, where it may serve as sustenance for rabbits when the ground is covered in snow.

Read on for our full guide on how to grow kale in your own garden.

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Kale seeds, like most other greens, do well when planted directly into the ground. If transplants are going to be used, the seeds should be started inside either in April or approximately 4 weeks before they will be put into the ground. If growing transplants, they should be hardened off by being moved to an area such as a cold porch, or patio for a few days before being placed into the soil. There should be 8 inches between plants. If you wish to grow and harvest ‘baby leaves,’ the plants can be ‘crowded’ at a distance of 4 – 5 inches.

To start with seed outdoors, they can be placed directly in the ground as soon as the ground is workable. Kale seeds need to be planted at a depth of ¼ – ½ inch. There should be approximately 24 inches between rows. There should be 8 -12 inches between plants after thinning. Kale seeds can be planted until temperatures are consistently above 80°F. Planting can begin again in the fall for a winter harvest.


Kale comes in many colors and leaf types, both smooth and curly. These leaf types determine how the varieties are categorized.

The ‘Scotch’ types of  kale have somewhat curly or rather crinkled leaves. The ‘Russian’ types of kale have flat leaves with separated edges.

There are also heirloom varieties available that do not feet neatly into either of the two categories. Kale can be yellow, green, blue, red, purple or almost black.

Select varieties that are hardy to your area, flavorful, and offer a broad spectrum of colors.


If kale is healthy, it does not generally attract pests. Aphids can be a problem, but a direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done during the warmest time of day in cool seasons, and in early afternoon for summer harvests.

Home Storage:

Kale can be kept in the refrigerator or on a cold porch for as long as a week. The longer kale is kept after picking, the stronger the flavor becomes. Kale leaves can be frozen whole in plastic bags, or they can be washed and dried, then chopped before freezing.