Knowing how to grow kale adds health and vitality to your garden. Whether you are growing kale in pots on a balcony or in your own backyard garden, this nutritional powerhouse is worth it’s weight in gold!
Why You should Grow Kale
Kale Nutritional Facts
Kale is considered to be a superfood for a reason. Including this leafy green vegetable into your garden will supply you with some of the most vital nutrients. Having fresh kale available for consumption will maximize these nutrients in your diet.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- and a wide range of other disease fighting nutrients
Kale is easy to grow in zone 9
Kale is one of the easiest vegetables that we grow. Outside of a bad pest year, which happens every now again. We almost always have success! We typically start our kale from seed, but on seasons when we are short on time, getting starts from the grocery store expediates the growing process. For very little effort, this vegetable will be hardy in your garden and last the entire season.
You can harvest continually from Kale through the season in zone 9
Kale, and other leafy greens are one of my favorite things to grow because it is not a one-time harvest vegetable. I love that I can harvest kale as I need it to throw into a recipe. If harvested right, it will continue to grow throughout the season making it not only prolific, but money saving.
Growing Kale is cheaper than buying it from the grocery store
Providing you want the abundance that homegrown kale offers, growing your own is cheaper. You could not buy fresh, organic kale for the amount that it can be grown for. When the increased nutritional value is considered especially. Homegrown kale is a steal!
Kale is one of the few cold hardy crops
Depending on the variety, kale is hardy to down to 10 degrees F. Some of the best varieties for colder climates include:
- Lacinato (Dinosaur)
- Dwarf Siberian
- Vates Scotch Blue Curled
- Red Russian
5 Most Common Varieties of Kale
There are many different varieties of kale, all touting their own strengths and weaknesses. Here are 5 of the most common varieties of kale:
- Lacinato (Dinosaur)-This variety we grow in our garden during every season. We find that it is more resilient to pests compared to the curlier varieties. I like this kale in in soups, and stir-fry especially.
- Vates Scotch Blue Curled-This variety also makes it into our garden every year. Even though we don’t need to take advantage of it’s amazing cold hardiness. We like this variety for kale chips, and rosemary potato soup.
- Tronchunda (Portuguese Kale)-This is Grey’s favorite! It is by far the easiest kale to spot pests. It is great in soups and stews because the leaves are thicker than other varieties of kale.
- Baby Kale-Popularly grown for salads, this kale is great for exactly that–salads! The texture is more lettuce like than more mature plants, but still has that peppery flavor that makes kale taste so nutrient rich.
- Red Russian Kale-Easily identified by it’s red-veined oak shaped leaves, this variety has an earthy taste. This variety goes well with beef stew or venison stew.
Ways to Process Kale
Thankfully Kale is not a vegetable that needs to be processed all at once. We like to harvest it throughout the season, but it is good to process when there is an abundance. Preserving kale for when there is none out in the garden adds some food security to the pantry. Here are our favorite ways to process kale:
- Add Kale to Freezer Meals for an easy dinner later
- Make your own greens powder
- Make Parmesan Kale Chips!
- Freeze blended kale and a small amount of water into ice cube trays, to add to smoothies later
How to Grow Kale in zone 9
When to Plant
Kale can be planted three to five weeks prior to the last frost date in the spring. It also can be planted in the late summer roughly six to eight weeks before the first Fall frost. If you are zone 8 or above (like us!) you can continue to plant in the early fall for a late fall to winter harvest.
Choose the planting site
Kale grows well in garden soil, raised garden beds, or containers. Choose the best planting site that works for your lifestyle. It also can grow indoors as long as you have adequate lighting. Soil that is rich in organic matter, and has good drainage is best. The location also should get ample sunlight.
Space kale plants roughly 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart, and plant them at the same depth they were growing in their nursery container or if direct seeding the pots they were transplanted in.
Kale can be direct seeded in the garden or started indoors and transplanted into the garden.
- Start plants indoors in a seed starting mix about six weeks before your last expected frost date. Kale seeds germinate quickly in warm soil and should sprout up within five to eight days.
- Cover the seeds with about 1/2 inch of soil, and keep the growing medium moist.
- Transplant your seedlings from indoors after the danger of frost has passed.
Recipes that Use Kale
Here are some of the recipes we commonly use the include kale from the garden:
Common Problems When Growing Kale in Zone 9
- Black Rot
- Cabbage loopers
- Cabbage Worms
- Flea beetles
How to Grow Kale FAQ
Can you grow Kale indoors?
Kale Can be grown indoors as long as it has adequate nutrition and light. If there is not a window that gets enough direct soon, you may need a grow light.
How long does Kale take to grow?
After planting Kale is generally ready to be harvested after two months. If you are growing kale to harvest as baby kale, the grow time is much sooner.
Are the stems on kale edible?
The stems are not harmful, but I usually cut them off and feet them to the chickens or compost them.