How To Grow An Organic Garden

Simple Success Growing Organic Kale


Plant kale seeds in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Protect germinating kale seeds or young growing kale plants from a heavy frost, less than 25°F, with row covers. Mild frost will not harm the plant; in fact, frost will improve the flavor by making the leaves sweeter.

For a fall/winter crop, broadcast seeds 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date.


Kale thrives in cooler temperatures and does well in partial shade and overcast climates.

We've had success in our hot and dry summer climate by planting in partial shade and keeping moisture levels even. Growing in full sun in hotter climates, though, will make the leaves tough and bitter.


Kale is a rich, mineral-bearing member of the "brassica" family (members include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and many other vegetables) and does well in generous amounts of compost. Keep your soil's pH level between 6.0-7.0


Kale seeds will germinate in temperatures as low as 45ºF but germinate the quickest (5-10 days) in 70-75ºF.

Once you've purchased your kale seeds, they should last up to 4 years if stored in a cool, dry location.


It's unnecessary to plant kale indoors as it thrives in cool weather (one of our kale varieties survived -15 ºF this winter).


(Planting seeds directly into the garden)

Although kale will do well in cooler weather, warming your growing area with black plastic will give you a quicker start.

Plant seed ½” deep, spacing plants 6" to 8" apart. After they've grown to about 12" tall, thin the kale plants to about 18" to 24” apart. I plant more than one seed per location. The needed space these plants need leaves a large space in a row if a single seed doesn’t germinate.

Before the heat sets in, apply mulch around plants to cool the roots. This will conserve moisture and prolong your harvest. Kale gets tough and tasteless in hot conditions.

Water every 3-4 weeks with a fish emulsion and/or compost tea.

Jenny's Tip: This past year we discovered a liquid organic fertilizer, a leaf spray called Organic Garden Miracle, that naturally stimulates your garden plants, including kale, to produce more plant sugar. Plant sugar is the basis for the size, health, taste, and nutrition in your plants.


Water your growing kale heavily throughout hot part of the growing season; water sparingly in the fall until heavy frost.


Planting where other brassica family members (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) have previously been grown should be avoided as it may encourage pest proliferation.


The young, tender foliage of this vitamin and mineral-packed plant can be harvested for salads. As your growing kale plant develops, harvest outside leaves when needed. If the leaf has a thick center stem, remove it.

The best way I have found is to pinch the plant at the base of the leaf and pull the leaf off, stripping it from the stem. This will remove most of the stem. Any stem that is still intact can be cut off.

When the plant has enough foliage to spare, you can pick extra leaves to blanch, chop and freeze for soup in the winter.


Two weeks in the refrigerator is the usual self-life for kale.


There are a few things you can do to keep your cabbage from being attacked by pests:

1. Overhead watering will help detach insects from the plant

2. Controlling nitrogen levels keep the aphid numbers down; high levels of nitrogen have been shown to increase aphid population

3. Using compost or straw mulches will significantly reduce the amount of fly larvae hatched directly into the soil. It also serves as a habitat for ground and rove beetles, predators of the cabbage maggot

4. Floating row covers used during the critical period after the plant emerges or right after transplanting will prevent larvae hatchings

5.Clubroot (a fungus that attacks the roots) can be controlled by keeping soil pH at 7.2. If pH levels drop below appropriate levels "liming" is recommended (addition of lime to your soil)