How to Harvest Kale
Kale is a superfood and has become incredibly popular in recent years. It’s no wonder — kale is delicious when sautéed, baked, or grilled in soups and stews. However, few people realize that it’s also relatively easy to grow in your garden or even on your balcony or patio if you have one. If you want to make sure you get the most kale out of each plant you grow, here are instructions on how to harvest kale so it keeps growing.
Grow your kale indoors
Believe it or not, kale can actually be grown indoors. It’s definitely an unorthodox approach, but there are some tricks you can use to make sure your indoor kale will grow successfully. First, choose a pot that has plenty of drainage holes. Next, fill it up with well-draining soil and place it in an area where it will get plenty of indirect sunlight.
Finally, keep watering regularly, and don’t forget to fertilize every few weeks. This is also a good time to trim off any dead leaves as they appear. Remember: just because you have no access to an outdoor garden doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fresh kale!
You might even prefer growing it indoors if you live in a particularly cold climate. In addition to helping extend your growing season, indoor kale tends to taste sweeter than its outdoor counterpart.
You could even try growing other types of greens like spinach or chard indoors—just follow these same steps and you should have success! If all else fails, consider using planters instead of pots—they tend to drain better than most pots and require less frequent watering too. Keep reading for more tips on how to harvest kale from home gardens.
If you decide to grow it outdoors, choose a location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. You may also want to wait until late spring or early summer when daytime temperatures remain consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). With either option, start harvesting young tender leaves during warm months so that you can eat them raw kale loses much of its nutritional value when cooked, though boiling does allow for some retention of vitamins A and C.
As your kale plants age, they will begin producing larger and tougher leaves. To avoid wasting these mature leaves, consider using them in soups or stews.
Finally, even if you don’t have any immediate plans for your kale harvest, it’s best to cut off any dead or dying foliage regularly so that new growth is encouraged instead of stunted by overcrowding. Keep reading for more tips on how to harvest kale from home gardens!
If you’re growing kale indoors, make sure that you water it regularly. In fact, over-watering is one of the most common mistakes made by indoor gardeners—especially those who are just starting out.
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It’s better to err on the side of too little water than too much; once you get used to caring for your indoor garden, you should be able to tell exactly when watering is necessary. Also remember that soil dries out faster in smaller pots, so keep an eye on things as your plants grow.
When it comes time to harvest, simply snip off individual leaves with scissors or pruners. Make sure not to take more than one-third of your plant’s total leaf mass at any given time; otherwise, it won’t be able to produce enough food for itself. If you plan on eating your kale right away, you can simply wash it thoroughly before chopping and serving it fresh.
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Cut the stems without bruising them
To harvest kale, cut each stem down to a few inches above soil level. For an even easier way, use garden shears instead of a knife. Be careful not to bruise your kale leaves by cutting them with a sharp blade or crushing them under pressure from scissors.
Bruised leaves will turn black and get slimy in a matter of days, so make sure you handle them gently. Once they’re all harvested, layout your kale on paper towels and store it in a plastic bag until you’re ready to eat it.
The longer it sits after harvesting, the more water evaporates out of its leaves—so don’t wait too long! Your best bet is to consume it within a week. You can keep it in your fridge if you have space, but be aware that storing vegetables there can lead to nutrient loss over time. If you’re using your kale for cooking, it’s better to keep it at room temperature.
Otherwise, stick it in a cool place like a basement or garage. In any case, avoid freezing your greens; their texture and flavor change when frozen.
That being said, some people prefer to freeze their kale because it preserves its nutrients without having to cook it right away. But just remember: It’ll take a lot longer than a week before you can enjoy those frozen leaves! Kale freezes well for up to six months, though it’s best fresh.
When you do decide to thaw your kale, set aside a couple of hours for that process; otherwise, you might end up with a soggy mess.
One good thing about freezing your kale is that it helps preserve its nutrients. Kale contains carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and vitamin C, which break down during storage. Freezing slows oxidation, keeping these important vitamins intact.
However, some studies suggest that cooked kale loses most of these carotenoids regardless of whether it’s frozen or refrigerated afterward. So if you want to retain as many nutritional benefits as possible, eat your kale raw. On average, one cup of chopped raw kale has around 100 calories and five grams of fiber.
This number varies depending on how much moisture remains in your leaves after washing them off—and how much dressing you add while eating! Keep in mind that adding oil or other fats also increases calories significantly.
So go easy on dressings when consuming large amounts of raw kale. If you need to count your calories, try boiling your kale. Boiling deactivates oxalic acid, a compound found in kale and other leafy greens that interferes with calcium absorption. Oxalic acid isn’t dangerous, but it can cause kidney stones if you consume too much of it. Learn How to tell if onion is bad
Boiling also makes kale easier to digest, making it a great option for anyone who suffers from indigestion. Just bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in your kale leaves, and simmer for eight to 10 minutes.
Drain and serve. Or you can steam your kale for a healthier alternative. All you have to do is toss it into a steamer basket with 1/2 inch of water and cover it with a lid. Steam for three to four minutes, then remove from heat and drain excess liquid.
Kale is also a popular addition to soups and stews. If you’re looking for a low-calorie meal, skip butter or oil when sautéing your kale. Instead, try tossing it with olive oil and roasting it in your oven. Bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then flip and bake for another 20 minutes. By that point, your kale should be soft enough to eat—and you’ll have saved yourself a significant amount of calories!
Pinch out the leaves but leave an inch at the bottom
It may seem counterintuitive, but pinching off leaves will make your kale bush happier. Pinch out about one-third of its stems, being careful not to crush or bruise its delicate inner leaves.
This will cause it to grow back denser and healthier than before. If you’re harvesting for a salad, take only half of its leaves. The more you harvest from a plant, the more energy it has to put into growing new ones.
When preparing kale for cooking, cut off any thick stalks that might be tough and fibrous—but leave at least an inch on either side of each leaf so that it can continue to grow. For many gardeners, harvesting kale is just another step in maintaining their plants.
Just like pruning and watering, I see it as part of keeping my garden healthy, says Leah Adams, who maintains a community garden plot in New York City. Pruning encourages new growth and makes them easier to harvest later on in the season.
It also gives them room to expand. Weeding helps me identify what needs attention, too. So does mulching around plants: It keeps moisture in, helping prevent fungal diseases that are common when the soil gets too dry and wicks away excess water during heavy rains.
Because kale doesn’t produce seeds until it reaches maturity (about six months), I let mine go through winter with some protection. In cold climates, cover kale with a light layer of straw or hay; in warmer regions, protect it by covering rows with plastic sheeting. That way, you won’t have to start over next year if a frost comes early.
Even if your plants survive winter, they may look pretty rough come springtime. But don’t despair! They should perk up once temperatures rise above 60 degrees F and days become longer again. And if they don’t? As long as temperatures don’t dip below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, they should survive.
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That said, if you live in a colder climate, cover them with a blanket or burlap sack to protect against frost damage. In springtime, they’ll start producing new leaves again and will keep going until fall. At that point, most gardeners pull them up and compost them.
However, if you want to save seedlings for replanting next year, wait until mid-October to dig up your plants. Wash off all dirt with a hose, then store them in buckets of moist sand or peat moss until you’re ready to replant. You’ll know kale is ready to harvest when it’s full and firm, with leaves that feel stiff and crisp.
Some gardeners say you should pinch a few leaves and taste them first to test for flavor. Others recommend pulling a leaf from different parts of your kale patch to ensure that it tastes good everywhere. Whatever you do, don’t yank leaves off with bare hands. Instead, use scissors or garden shears to snip them cleanly.
That will help you avoid tearing leaves, which will slow down your harvest. Before you start harvesting, remove any debris from your garden and wash your tools with soap and warm water.
Then, use a brush to scrub them clean of dirt and residue. Finally, give them a quick rinse in clear water to remove any soap or grime that could linger on the blades. After harvesting kale, store it in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to five days.
Place it in the water
If you’re harvesting kale for its leaves, then it needs plenty of water to grow. To increase your crop, place a shallow tray filled with water below your plants.
The moisture from the bottom tray will seep up and keep your kale leaves hydrated. Don’t leave them sitting in one spot though; check every few days and move if necessary to prevent molding or rotting of your crops.
Also, make sure that when you are moving your kale around that they are not touching each other. This can cause damage to their leaves, leaving them susceptible to disease. Once your kale is ready to harvest, cut off all leaves at once using scissors.
You should also do a little trimming here and there as needed during growth. After cutting, store in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
You can use your fresh kale within 3-4 days. Remember to always wash your hands before handling any type of produce! It may seem like common sense but washing your hands helps prevent bacteria from entering into open wounds on your skin. Remember: Wash before and after handling produce. Never eat or serve food that has been contaminated by unclean hands.
On average, kale will grow one new leaf a week. Once your plant has grown at least 8 inches in height, it’s ready for harvest. When you cut off its leaves, new ones will quickly replace them! If you plan on using your kale for recipes or simply want it to last as long as possible, place your harvested kale in water after cutting.
The moisture from the bottom tray of water will seep up and keep your leaves hydrated. Just make sure that when you are moving your kale around that they are not touching each other. This can cause damage to their leaves, leaving them susceptible to disease.
Since most home gardeners do not have access to large amounts of space, vertical gardening is an excellent way to maximize growing space and get more out of limited square footage. Vertical gardening is also beneficial because it allows gardeners to easily manage light exposure, which leads to better harvests with less work overall.
Keep in a cool place (a fridge is ideal)
If you want to keep your kale alive and growing, try storing it in a container of soil rather than just in a plastic bag. Another way to extend your harvest is by plucking leaves off at their base; if you have a small pot or saucer that you can place on top of where you’ve snipped, then replace those leaves with new ones from below. Your kale will continue to grow as long as there are leaves left above ground.
Also, make sure you’re harvesting kale regularly—if it gets too large, it may become bitter. Kale tends to grow more slowly in cold weather, so if you live somewhere colder as I do (Minnesota), consider starting your crop indoors around late February or early March and transplanting them outside when temperatures warm up.
Then, after summer has ended, bring them back inside before they freeze over. This process is called hardening off, and it helps get plants accustomed to outdoor conditions so they aren’t shocked when you finally put them out.
This also means you don’t need to plant quite as many seeds because they won’t all survive outdoors anyway! And finally, if all else fails: buy some more kale plants! They grow quickly and easily from seed, so chances are good that even if yours die soon after planting, you can always start again.
Keep repeating this process until you harvest a whole plant
Cut off one of its stems at ground level. This stem will grow back and will make a new kale plant. You can keep harvesting from your original kale plant until it gets too small, or you can give some away as gifts and start a new crop in another location. It’s important to harvest kale when it’s young.
Younger plants are easier to regrow than older ones. When you’re ready to move on, just dig up your kale and transplant it into rich soil with plenty of sun exposure. Within a few weeks, you should have an entirely new crop of fresh greens!
Kale is an extremely hardy vegetable that is easy to grow even for beginners. There are many different varieties available, so no matter where you live there should be at least one type that does well in your climate. Kale can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and will do fine in most climates as long as it gets plenty of sun! Kale plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight per day to thrive.
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If you’re growing kale indoors or in a greenhouse, make sure to keep it close to a window so it can get enough light. If you plant your kale outdoors, try to plant it in an area with plenty of direct sunlight. The more sun your kale receives, the more nutrients it will have access to and the healthier it will be.
Kale grows best when planted in rich soil with lots of organic material mixed into it. If you’re planting your kale in a garden bed, try mixing compost or manure into your soil before planting and then adding some fertilizer once your plants are established.
If you’re growing kale indoors, you can use a potting mix instead of garden soil—just make sure that it has plenty of nutrients for healthy growth.
Kale needs plenty of water to grow well, but too much water can actually be harmful to its health! If you’re growing kale in a garden bed or in a pot, make sure that your soil drains well so it doesn’t get soggy.
If you have a lot of rain where you live, consider planting your kale in a raised bed or container so it will stay above ground level and won’t get soggy.
You’re done with harvesting your kale, and you can now enjoy its many benefits. This plant is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, as well as a good source of iron, calcium, and fiber. You will find that harvesting kale is easy once you know how the plant produces for a long time in the summertime and does so reliably each year.
Start out by planting seeds or seedlings in spring or early summer, and keep them watered throughout their growing season. Once you learn how to harvest kale, it will be one of your favorite vegetables!
If you are enjoying a large garden space, don’t hesitate to get more than one variety of kale; they thrive together in full sun without fussing about different soil conditions. After all, what could be better than having plenty of nutritious greens?
Whether you are serving them fresh on salads or tossing them into soups and stews (not forgetting smoothies), these flavorful leaves are great additions to any diet! When growing kale from seedlings, keep your plants well-watered until they have developed their roots and begun to grow.
Then water as needed throughout their season; for larger plants that are already established, water only when rainfall is lacking or when temperatures soar during summertime heat waves.
Make sure your plants have at least six hours of sunlight each day for best results. Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, spider mites, cabbage loopers, and leaf miners.
Treat your plants with organic pesticides if necessary. Once you learn how to harvest kale regularly, it will become a staple crop in your kitchen—and who knows? Maybe someday soon it will be included in your favorite recipes!
You can enjoy tasty ways to eat kale including baked dishes, soups, stews, curries, stir-fries…the list goes on! Kale freezes very well and is also available dried or preserved.
If you enjoyed learning how to harvest kale so that it keeps growing again next year: Why not try some other crops?