Kale is a nutrition-packed leafy green vegetable that is very adaptable and thrives in almost any soil, growing condition or climate. Kale is a cool season vegetable that despises heat and direct summer sunlight, as long as you can keep the plants out of constant sunlight and cooler than 80 degrees, it will reward you with tasty and healthy green leaves year around.
Kale will develop into a large, leafy plant that needs a large container to grow in. A 5 gallon bucket makes a perfect container for growing 1 plant. Use light-colored plastic buckets only as dark-colored plastic heats the soil too much and will will cook the plant roots. Use a large nail to create drainage holes in the bottom of each bucket (5 holes per bucket or other large container). Place coffee filters in the bottom of containers to prevent soil from leaching out during watering.
Kale will grow well in any potting soil mix, but will do its best in a low-acidic soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.8. Mix a cup of wood ashes into each 5 gallon bucket of potting soil before planting to reduce the acidic level and increase the alkaline level for optimum kale production. Fill container to within 2 inches of the rim with potting soil.
Seeds or Plants
Kale can be started from seeds or plants ( called ‘starts’). Place 2 seeds or 1 start in the center of the soil, 1/2 inch deep. Water well and place in a location that will remain between 50-60 degrees and receives 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Keep soil moist. After seeds germinate and plants develop their second set of leaves, remove 1 plant and transplant or discard.
Add a 2 inch layer of organic mulch on top of soil to help soil remain cool and retain moisture. If kale is being grown in containers during the winter, place containers in a full sun location. If growing the leafy green during the summer, place containers in a partially shades area to help plants stay cool.
Kale is a hardy, disease-resistant plant and few pests bother it. Hand-remove cutworms or cabbage worms if noticed on the plants. Harvest anytime leaves are 8 inches by snapping or snipping off outside leaves. To have a continuous harvest of fresh tender leaves, plant kale seeds 2 weeks a part in separate containers.