How To Grow Kale (Zone 9 – Central Florida)

How To Grow Kale

Kale is so hot right now.

Remember when I said I adore spinach? Well, Farmer Ross (my husband) loves kale. Don’t even bother giving that man a salad that doesn’t involve kale or you’ll hear him moan and groan his way through dinner. He even claims that kale is the only vegetable that makes him feel full because it’s hardy and manly.

I respect his right to choose his leafy green of choice since he respects my decision to stick with spinach.

Do you want to know what true love looks like?

True love

It looks like this – half a raised bed full of kale and half filled with spinach. We compromised and split the garden bed right down the middle. Sorry to get so deep on a post about growing Kale. You never know what I’m going to dish about here. 🙂

Like spinach, kale is also very easy to grow. It wasn’t bothered by bugs or extreme weather. In fact, a light frost enhances the flavor or kale. And my kale tastes great so it must be true!

How To Grow Kale

What seeds did I use?

I used the American Seed brand’s kale seeds in the heirloom variety. I bought these seeds for a quarter at the dollar store to test out cheap seeds…and my experiment worked! These seeds grew beautiful, fluffy kale. I know it’s always better to purchase organic seeds, but these seeds prove that regardless of your budget, you can garden successfully.

How did I plant the seeds?

I planted the seeds every 12 inches directly into a garden bed filled with mushroom dirt mixture. Within two weeks the baby kale plants sprouted. Part of the fun of gardening is seeing what a plant looks like when it first pops through the soil. Kale did not disappoint. It looked like little four leave clovers, which was not what I was expecting!

Baby Kale

You’ll notice that these sprouts are NOT 12 inches apart. I dropped 2 seeds into each hole while planting and then I went back and thinned my plants when they were the size above. If you’re new to gardening, that means that I ripped out the weakest looking plant to increase the chances of survival for the stronger plant. I know the urge is to let every plant grow. (Been there, done that, ended up with a mess of tangled plants.) But when you have large, thriving plants with space to grow, you’ll be happy you plucked up the little weak plants in their space.

How long did it take from seed to salad bowl?

It takes about 2 months for the leaves to grow big enough to harvest. I planted the seeds during the last week of January and my kale is just now ready to eat in mid-march.

Kale close

How do you harvest kale?

Similar to spinach, you harvest the outer kale leaves as needed while leaving the plant in the ground. Also, harvest kale leaves in the morning when the leaves are cool and crisp. The intense afternoon sun will make the leaves wilt on the plant and you’ll end up with limp kale leaves without the signature crunch.

How do you prepare kale to eat?

To wash the leaves, I soak them in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt and spin them dry in my salad spinner.

soaking greens

You can use kale in salads, smoothies, bake it into kale chips or cook it into Zuppa Toscana soup. Since kale is a hot vegetable right now, there are hundreds of kale recipes floating around the web.

My husband’s favorite use of kale is a big old salad. Preferably with bacon.

Kale salad

Jane’s Kale Review

Gardening skill level: Easy

Seeds: American Seed brand, heirloom variety

Garden soil: Mushroom dirt mixture

Pest control: None

Seed to salad bowl (growth): 8 weeks

Washing: Soak in cold water

Season in Zone 9 (Central Florida): September to February

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses kale? Leave it in the comments below. 🙂

Kale growing

If you are interested in kale, you may always want to check out my reviews on other super easy plants to grow in Central Florida or Zone 9:

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