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Kale offers a range of benefits for the whole body. It is high in fibre, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C and K, iron and a wide range of good things.
Nutritious and easy to cultivate, use the leaves raw in salads and smoothies or cooked in stews, soups, stir-fries or make kale chips.
Kale is the lesser known member of the Brassica family that also includes cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli. It can be grown from seed or seedling and will be ready to harvest in 55 to 75 days for seeds and 30 to 40 days for seedlings.
Follow our seven easy steps to successful kale harvest including tips along the way.
When to plant and position in the garden.
When to plant.
Kale can be grown in any part of Australia, but it’s best grown in the cooler regions of the country. Kale is very frost hardy, in fact, the frost will help to improve the flavour of the vegetable.
- For cool and temperate regions, plant seeds and seedlings all year round.
- For warm and tropical regions, plant seeds and seedlings from March to September.
- Kale can be grown in the garden or a pot. It likes full sun but will tolerant partial shade.
- Add companion plants alongside kale such as beetroot, peas, onion, celery, spinach and potatoes.
Get the soil right to harvest a bumper crop of delicious kale.
Follow our steps for easy soil preparation.
Step 1 – Sowing seeds.
- Seeds can be placed directly into the soil or seed trays for later transfer into the ground.
- Sow seeds into the soil 1cm deep, 5cm aparts, in rows 30cm to 45cm apart. Cover the seeds with soil.
- In trays, put a couple of seeds in every single cell and sow to a depth of 1cm.
- Water in well with Seasol, as this will help to increase seed germination rates. Soil should be moist but not wet.
- Note: These are not kale seeds, it’s just an illustration to show the process.
Step 2 – First growth.
- Seeds will start to emerge out of the soil within 5-8 days depending on temperature.
- If you want faster germination rates, put your seedling tray inside on a heating pad.
- When kale sprouts, they only have two leaves. These seedlings leaves look like two fat hearts on either side of the stem.
- Ensure your tiny plants stay moisture but not wet. Apply Seasol weekly (30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water) as this will help to stimulate strong root development and healthy growth.
Step 3 – Baby kale seedlings.
- About 4 to 6 weeks after germination the kale seedlings should have at least four developing leaves and be around 10cm high.
- Thin out weaker seedlings so they are not competing for space and nutrients.
- Kale seedlings need water and nutrients to keep them sweet and juicy.
- Liquid feed weekly with a fertiliser high in nitrogen and potassium such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES For Tomatoes & Vegetables. (Mix 20mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water.)
Step 4 – Kale seedlings ready for transfer.
- Transplant your own seedlings when they are bout 10-15cm high. Or transplant seedlings from the punnet you have purchased.
- Plant seedlings to the depth they were in the punnet. If they look a bit leggy and stretch, plant deeper by covering the two-bottom leave.
- Water your newly transplanted seedling with Seasol, as this will help with transplant shock. Check the moisture level of the soil daily and water when needed.
- Once a week feed your kale seedlings with PowerFeed PRO SERIES For Tomatoes & Vegetables. Increase the application rates from 20mL to 50mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water as the plants mature.
Step 5 – Kale plant growth.
- Watch your kale seedlings grow over the following weeks as the stalks and leaves develop and mature.
- Kale leaves and stems like to stay moisture to stay juicy and tender.
- If possible water early in the morning and around the base of the plant, not the leaves. This will ensure that the leaves are dry by nightfall to prevent diseases such as downy mildew.
- Apply a layer of mulch such as sugar cane mulch or pea straw to keep the soil moist and weeds away.
- Every 6-8 weeks apply another application of PowerFeed Controlled Release For Tomatoes & Vegetables to produce a bumper crop.
Step 6 – Kale harvest.
- Start harvesting leaves when there are about 6 to 8 leaves on the plant, leaving at least 4 leaves in the centre. Leaves left on too long, will become bitter and tough.
- Keep a close look on your plants and leaves. Either harvest the whole plant or just the leaves.
- To harvest the whole plant, cut the kale at the bottom of the stem about 5cm above the soil. This will enable the plant to produce more leaves.
- To pick off leaves, pick outer older leaves, as this will allow the newer young leaves time to develop.
- Once the leaves have been harvested, wash thoroughly and then store in the fridge for later use.
Things to watch out for.
- For an organic treatment for downy mildew, remove the worst affected leaves and spray with a home-made remedy such as 1 in 10 mixture of full cream milk to water.
- Pick off any discoloured or diseased leaves, as this will reduce the chance of harmful pests.
- Hungry caterpillars love to chomp on your plant leaves. Keep a close eye on these little critters and pick them off with your hand.
- Aphids like to pierce tissue leaves and suck out all the
good juices. Treat by planting companion plants as listed above or with an insecticide such as Neem or Pest Oil.