Kale has transitioned from a subsistence food for poor rural people into a fashionable super-food but if you grow some in your garden you will discover that it is a virtually hassle free crop which is versatile in the kitchen and will give you greens all through the hungry gap. It is extremely hardy and will grow in pretty much every garden.

Growing kale:

Kale can easily be grown from seed. Seeds can be sown any time between early-spring and early-summer. You can sow the seeds direct into the ground but you may have better results if you start the kale indoors and transplant seedlings to their final positions once they have around six true leaves. Water well before and after transplantation and space plants at around 45cm apart.

There are a number of different varieties of kale and the plants can be highly decorative as well as edible. They create wonderful leafy depth in a bed and come in a variety of shades and shapes in green and purple. Some are hardier that others and are better suited to northern latitudes.

You can use kale as a cut and come again crop, in which case you should begin to take small leaves when the plants are around 5cm high and more young leaves will replace those which you have taken.

Alternatively, you can simply harvest leaves from the mature plant from around October and continuously over the winter months. Even a couple of plants should give a family plenty of healthy greens over the winter and spring.

Kale is relatively free of disease and is one of the easiest brassicas to grow. It will however almost certainly have to be netted against birds, especially pigeons, who can completely eat up your plants in no time at all and seem to particularly enjoy this crop.

Kale will be fine in a location with some light shade. It will benefit from an organic feed in the spring. Water regularly in dry weather and use a nitrogen rich mulch like grass clippings to encourage leafy growth.

Why grow kale in the garden?

Kale is extremely healthy and can be used in a variety of different ways in the kitchen. Young leaves can be eaten in a salad and older leaves can be treated as you would cabbage or spinach.

As it is so much easier to grow than other brassicas, this is a great plant for beginners to grow. It is a hassle free crop that gives you a lot of food in a relatively small amount of space and over quite a long cropping period.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Brassica oleracea var. sabellica