Brassica oleracea var. sabellica
Kale is a hardy, leafy green vegetable that thrives in cool weather and can tolerate frost, which often enhances its flavor. It prefers full sun but can grow in partial shade. Kale grows best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. Enrich the soil with compost or a balanced organic fertilizer before planting.
You can start kale seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, or direct sow outdoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. For a fall harvest, sow seeds in late summer.
Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, spacing them 2-3 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 12-18 inches apart once they are a few inches tall. Kale requires consistent moisture, particularly during dry periods. Mulching helps retain soil moisture and control weeds.
For in-depth information on growing kale, including variety selection and care tips, refer to our comprehensive kale grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Kale can attract pests like cabbage loopers and aphids. Use row covers to protect young plants and apply organic or chemical controls as necessary. Diseases like downy mildew and black rot can be minimized with good spacing and air circulation.
Harvest kale leaves from the bottom of the plant, allowing the center to continue growing. Young leaves are tender and great for salads, while older leaves are better for cooking. Kale can be harvested throughout the growing season.
Storage and Preservation
Kale can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, blanch the leaves, then cool, drain, and freeze them. Kale can also be dehydrated or used in fermented dishes like sauerkraut.