One of the easiest vegetables to grow is kale. Moreover, it has been getting a lot of attention in recent years.
It is believed that kale can contribute significantly to improving overall health due to its health benefits . Not to mention, it’s delicious and easy to prepare.
Read on to learn how to grow kale from seed or seedlings.
Seeing that you’re reading this article, you likely want to know how to plant your own kale so that you always have a consistent supply. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to cultivate.
1. Prepare the Growing Space
You’ll need a little bit of space in a garden bed or somewhere in your backyard. If you don’t have yard space, a sturdy container (at least 12-inches in diameter) will also suffice. You will want to plan it out so that it will produce before the full heat of summer hits.
Also, identify where you will plant it. At the very least, kale plants will need partial sun (and full sun if you live in a cooler climate) to thrive.
Moreover, growing kale in the garden, there are some good kale companion plants that you can consider planting near. However, be sure to keep it away from beans, strawberries, or tomatoes as those are bad companions.
A mature plant will get to about 2 feet tall and will spread out to as much as 3 feet wide. Therefore, make sure you plant it in a location where it will have ample room to grow.
2. The Planting Process
Start your kale seeds indoors about 3 months before fall frost. Transplant the seedlings in the garden when there is no longer a risk of freezing at night. Also, seedlings should have 3 to 4 true leaves before transplanting.
If you opt to start seeds indoors and then transplant, your plant should be ready for harvest about 30-40 days after transplant. However, if you planted seeds directly in the ground, expect mature plants in 55 to 75 days.
Kale does not enjoy the heat. Therefore, it’s best to avoid planting the seeds or seedlings in the height of summer.
3. Watering and Fertilizing
Ensure the plants are well watered, keeping the soil evenly moist. Therefore, provide 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
Covering the ground with mulch can also help retain water and maintain a healthy temperature for the roots.
Additionally, fertilize the soil every 2 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer if growing in a container. Kale plants require fertilizer rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. A fish and seaweed emulsion is rich in these nutrients.
You will know that it’s time to harvest when the leaves are about the size of an average adult hand. Here’s how to harvest kale so it keeps growing:
- Simply pick the leaves straight off the stem, starting outwards and working your way in.
- However, leave a few of the smaller inner leaves so that you will have another crop to harvest in about a week or so.
- While harvesting, remove any dead or bug-eaten leaves and toss them in your compost.
Health Benefits of Kale
- Like many leafy green vegetables, kale is low-calorie and low-fat but rich in fiber, iron, vitamin K, and other vitamins and minerals .
- In fact, it even has more iron per calorie than a serving of beef.
- Moreover, the vitamin K, carotenoids, and flavonoids in this veggie make it a great cancer-fighting vegetable.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in kale. This helps reduce inflammation in the body.
- Kale is also rich in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps protect your eyesight and contributes to healthy skin. Plus, vitamin C also contributes to glowing skin and supports your immune system.
- Additionally, many people are not aware that kale is also extremely rich in calcium. In fact, it has more calcium than milk .
However, like all things, too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. Although kale is indeed a superfood with many health benefits, that doesn’t mean it provides all of the health benefits the body needs.
Also, it definitely doesn’t mean you should start a kale-only cleanse. Make sure you implement it into a well-rounded, balanced diet.
Below is the nutrition data for one cup of chopped raw kale (67g) .
- 33.5 calories
- Vitamin A – 206% of the DV
- Calcium – 9% of the DV
- Vitamin C – 134% of the DV
- Potassium – 9% of the DV
- Iron – 6% of the DV
- Vitamin K – 684% of the DV
- Magnesium – 6% of the DV
- Protein – 4% of the DV
- Fiber – 5% of the DV
- Folate – 5% of the DV
- Vitamin B6 – 9% of the DV
- Thiamin – 5% of the DV
- Manganese – 26% of the DV
- Riboflavin – 5% of the DV
- Copper – 10% of the DV
- 121 mg Omega-3 fatty acids
How to Eat
Now that you’re aware of its many benefits, you probably want to start incorporating it into your diet. It’s not exactly the best vegetable enjoyed on its own, so you will want some tips on how to eat kale.
Add it to your salad, but you’ll want to slice it very thin before tossing it in. Also, it can be a little bitter eaten raw, so pair it with other vegetables or use a citrus-y dressing.
One of the easiest and most common ways to utilize it is by adding it to your smoothie. Just toss in a handful before you add your berries, banana, or whatever else you may enjoy in your smoothie.
Most people serve kale boiled, much like spinach. This makes it very easy to serve and eat, and you can still top it with some nuts or bacon if you’’ like to make it fancier.
Grilling is another excellent option for eating this leafy green veggie. Drizzle the leaves with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Next, lay on the grill just long enough to brown; flip and repeat. Grilling kale gives it a nice crispy texture.
Drizzle a little olive oil over your kale and add some salt and pepper. Next, toss it into the oven for about 10 minutes. You’ll end up with some delicious, crispy chips. These make for a great snack or garnish.
Kale is also delicious in soups. Besides, it won’t fall apart when you add it to your chicken gnocchi soup (or any soup of your choice).
For the same reasons, this vegetable is also great in a pasta dish as it won’t overcook and get all stringy like some other leafy greens. Moreover, it pairs great with spicy sausage and cavatappi noodles.
Clearly, kale is an interesting vegetable. It’s easy to grow, offers tremendous health benefits, and you can eat it in a variety of ways.