image by James_Roberts/Flickr.com
Kale is a type of cabbage, except it does not form into a head like other cabbages. You may be turning up your nose at the idea of growing kale, thinking it isn't your kind of vegetable. Kale, however, makes a tasty addition to salads. Mix it with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and other salad ingredients and the added flavor just might surprise you.
Decide the right location for your kale. It needs full sun. It is a cold-season crop, which means it needs to be planted as early in spring as possible, after the last frost in your location.
Prepare the soil. Kale does best with a sandy, well-drained soil. If you have a clay-based soil in your area, mix in compost with the tilled dirt. When the soil breaks apart easily, after you clump it in your hand, it is ready for planting.
Make a row in your garden soil. Form two parallel lines with your hoe, 1 foot apart, with the soil forming a mound in the center. If you want more than one row of kale, separate them by about 20 inches. This will leave room for mature plants.
Plant the kale seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart at the top of the mounded row. Cover the seeds with soil. If your seed packet gives alternate planting directions, follow them. Different varieties of kale may require different seed depths and spacing.
Keep the soil moist but not overly soggy until the kale plants sprout through the soil. Use the moat formed (from the hoe) on both sides of your plants for watering once the plants sprout. When a kale plant receives water from its underside, the roots are encouraged to grow downward, making for a strong and secure plant. Water once a week. If you live in a very hot climate, your plants may need watering more often. To determine if the plants need to be watered, check the soil at the bottom of the moat. If you insert your finger 1 inch and the soil is still dry, the plants need water.
Harvest the kale leaves by breaking off those on the outside of the plant. Cut the entire kale bud if a large amount is needed.