If you are a healthy eating enthusiast that loves salads and understands their importance in our daily nutrition intake, then you must be a fan of kale. It’s a superfood that goes with anything, and it’s highly nutritious, fresh, and delicious to taste especially when harvested at the right time.
If you are a gardening enthusiast as well, and you prefer growing your own greens and vegetables, then it’s time to learn how to grow and harvest kale in your own garden or even pot on the balcony.
You can grow and enjoy kale in most climate zones all year round as this plant is known for its resistance to colder weather. It thrives even when it’s exposed to a few grades below zero!
Its versatility is outstanding! Start growing it from scratch by planting the seeds directly in your garden or just pot them first and transfer them when they sprout. The great thing about this green is that it is continuously growing. From only 1 kale you can harvest and enjoy the leaves all year round if cared for properly and in the right environment.
If you don’t have that much space in your garden, you could just grow it in hanging containers or raised beds. Just keep in mind that the pots should be deep and filled with soil in order to provide the kale’s roots with enough space and nutrients.
How much light?
Being grown for its leaves, full-on sunlight is godsent for this green. If your garden is especially shady, make certain you plant your kale somewhere where it can get at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight. The rest of the time, it would be great for it to be under at least partial shade.
Even if the leaves are strong and won’t get burnt easily, they can lose their nutritious value if they get dried out because of the sun being too powerful.
It’s important to provide your plant with the perfect soil mixture to promote healthy growth. They prefer slightly moist and acidic grounds, filled with nutrients from decomposing organic matter. Use a special compost from your local gardening store and pay attention that is organically sourced for better plants and the environment.
How much water?
If you want to enjoy sweeter, crisp leaves, you must water the kale beds regularly as moisture is key to avoiding bitter or tougher harvests. A great idea is to add wood shavings around the base of your plants in order to avoid water loss by evaporation during hot summer days.
When do they thrive?
Even if it thrives all year round, kale prefers cooler weather. It grows well in hotter climates as well, with the only difference being the way it tastes. Kale grown in cooler climates is sweeter, more enjoyable while it comes out the opposite way when exposed to extreme heat.
It can thrive even if exposed to a light frost, making the leaves taste even sweeter. You can start seeding it in early spring or even late summer or fall if you live in a warm climate. Nevertheless, don’t let it get exposed to snow or continuously freezing temperatures. It’s not invincible, after all!
Also, you must be careful with pests as this green is vulnerable to all kinds of insects and slugs. As soon as you see eggs under the leaves, make sure you get them out before they hatch.
How to harvest
You can use fresh kale in everything from salads, to soups or even smoothies. If you’re a big fan, then you’re in luck. You can harvest kale continuously and it will keep growing if cared for properly.
Harvesting time frame
Kale can be harvested all-year-round. Keep in mind that its leaves tend to get bitter when they are under the hot sunlight of summer days, but in the fall and even warm climates winters, the leaves will remain sweet and fresh.
After you planted your seeds, give your kale about one and a half to 2 months to really mature. If you add organic fertilizer to your crop once a month, this can happen even faster.
If you like the stronger taste, wait until it matures and pick the full-grown leaves that got to about the size of your hand. Alternatively, if you prefer sweet baby kale instead, you can start harvesting leaves even after 1 month of seeding.
Nevertheless, make certain you don’t pick the heart of your kale plant, and you don’t harvest too many of the tender baby leaves. Pay attention to these details in order to allow your kale to grow more leaves after harvesting.
Tips and tricks
To ensure continuous harvest as well as a healthy plant, make sure you pay attention to cleaning your plants often. Remove any bug eggs from underneath, and if you see yellowish or dried leaves cut them off immediately to encourage the production of fresh ones.
Also, remove the bigger leaves first. They take a lot of nutrients to stay healthy and will slow down the growth of others in the process.
Kale is a strong plant that can be kept fresh for up to 2 weeks if stored the right way. Pick the desired leaves, wash them and dry them up with a paper towel, and place them into the fridge in a resealable plastic container or bag. To keep it from becoming soggy, simply add a little napkin to the bag to absorb the extra moisture.
Kale is a high nutrition plant, full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Its versatility is amazing, and you can add it to any soup, salad, or as a side dish to your favorite meal any time you want.
It’s easy to grow and care for, and you don’t even need a lot of equipment to do so. Its best feature yet is that it can be harvested continuously the whole spring, summer, fall, even sometimes in the winter and the leaves will grow back every time after about a week or 2. Plant it yourself and you’ll see that’s totally worth it!