Kale is quite the face of the healthy, organic revolution today. Renowned for its health benefits, kale indeed helps to prevent diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and helps in improving bone health. It is also super healthy for skin and hair. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium, manganese, iron and copper, the leafy vegetable is also tasty. It can be steamed, boiled, or eaten fresh in salads or sandwiches. Kale compliments rich flavours like garlic, chiles, onions, and thyme. Kale is a cool weather crop. Although it can also be grown in summers, it requires a lot of shade and care. Moreover, the winter crop is sweeter in taste.
How to grow kale in pots/ containers
Kale, like any other green leafy vegetable is super easy to grow in pots and containers. You don't need an entire backyard for growing this mighty vegetable. Learn how to plant kale seeds in pots below.
Preparing and sowing kale seeds
Kale growing season:
Kale belongs to the cabbage family. It is hence, a cool season, hardy crop.
Start the kale seeds indoors 5-7 weeks before the last expected frost. If directly sowing outdoors, do so 2-4 weeks before the last frost.
Pot/ Container size:
Choose a container that is at least 12 inches deep and equally wide. Be sure to choose pots with drainage holes at the bottom. Fill 3/4 of the pots with well-drained soil.
Space the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep. Avoid using potting soil and sow the seeds in well-drained, loamy soil with pH levels between 5.6 and 6.8. It will help in avoiding clubroot, a common fungal disease in the cabbage family. You could also use leaf manure from AllThatGrows in combination with other soil mixtures.
Once you have your kale seeds, pots to sow them and the right soil to grow them in, it’s time to plant. Take care of the following planting conditions for healthy growth of your kale plant.
When planting during the cool season, pick a spot that will receive abundant sunlight. 8-10 hours of sun is recommended per day.
Sufficient watering will be needed for healthy growth of the crop. Please ensure you do not overwater.
Kale thrives in the company of other cabbage varieties, beetroot, onions and other herbs. The taste will be relatively bitter if grown in hotter climate under shade. The frost makes kale sweeter in taste.
Growing tips for kale
- The taste will be relatively bitter if grown in hotter climate under shade. The frost makes kale sweeter in taste.
- If your kale leaves start rotting, add mulch to the crop once it is 6 inches tall.
- Kale is good at resisting pests. Yet, some of the pests that can affect the crop include aphids, cabbage worms, cutworms and flea beetles. Adding organic fertilizer to pots along the growing season and keep picking weathered leaves. This can help in avoiding pests and diseases.
- Use bamboo sticks to support the plant growth in pots through winter.
- Most kale varieties are ready to be harvested within 70-95 days if sown directly with seed and 55-75 days from transplanting method.
- When the leaves are about the size of your hand, harvest them like any other green leafy vegetable. You can cut off the stems near the crown.
- Harvest the bigger leaves initially. This will allow the smaller ones to grow and extend your harvest period and yield.
- Make sure you harvest all the leaves before they start turning brown. If the crop is more than you can consume, you can use the leaves for composting or simply share with neighbours/ friends!
- You can store kale for a week in a plastic bag it in the refrigerator.
- Use the tender leaves uncooked in salads or smoothies or cook with them as per taste!
Tips for growing kale indoors
- You can also grow kale indoors as it does not need much space like most leafy vegetables. It, however, requires a good amount of sun.
- Growing kale indoors also reduces the chances of diseases and infection.
- The best variety to sow indoors will be Dwarf Kale as many varieties can grow up to 3 feet tall. This one is ideally suited for indoor space.
- Place the pots or containers at a spot receiving at least 8 hours of sunlight a day.
- Kale is cultivated across the hydroponics industry with a lot of comforts due to its ability to grow in water. It can also be grown in artificial light indoors.
Consume this nutrition powerhouse in its most nutritious form by growing kale microgreens. All you need is a shallow and wide tray/ pot that is 4 to 5 inches deep, loamy soil, a spot receiving sufficient sunlight and sufficient water for the plant. Your heart kale microgreens harvest will be ready to eat within 2 weeks!