Kale is super easy to grow and gives gardeners here in Central Texas a continuous leaf harvest year round. That’s reason enough for me to grow it, even before you factor in the beauty of kale and how it’s considered one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.
You might have just met your new favorite plant to grow in a vegetable garden!
When to Grow Kale in Central Texas
Kale thrives on days when the temps are between 50°F to 75°F. (Don’t we all?!)
If you’re ready to plant kale and the temperature is still above 85°F, plant it in a spot with some shade from a taller plant already established in your garden or use a shade cloth.
Kale is very frost tolerant. It can handle temps all the way down to 28°F before needing to be covered, and we maybe see a couple days with below-freezing temps like that here in the greater Austin area.
Unfortunately, kale is less tolerant of our Central Texas heat. A mature kale plant might bolt (or go to seed) once it gets too hot in the summertime.
Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide
Take all the guesswork out of your seasonal planting.
Where to Grow Kale
We love to grow kale in raised beds next to other leafy greens, herbs, and fruiting plants. Raised beds at least 18 inches deep give kale roots all the room they need to stretch down, and they also provide good drainage so that your kale plants aren’t sitting in water for too long.
If you don’t have raised beds, you can grow kale in a large container or pot—just remember to water more frequently so that the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Kale needs a spot that receives at least 4 to 8 hours of sun per day.
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My Favorite Types of Kale to Grow
These varieties do great here in the Central Texas area and have been winners in both the flavor and ease departments:
Each kale variety is linked to one of my favorited sources of organic, non-GMO seeds.
How to Grow Kale from Seed
Because kale is not as fast-growing as a plant like lettuce but can spend a long time basking in the sunlight in your garden, I typically recommend starting kale by seed indoors.
In the spring, start kale seeds indoors in January to move outside in February. If you don’t want to start seeds indoors, wait till about February to sow kale seeds directly in the garden.
In the fall, start kale seeds indoors in late August to move outdoors in mid September. Keep your fragile little kale seedlings in a shadier spot in the garden to protect them from the heat that continues to plague us well into the fall. If you prefer to sow seeds directly in the garden, the best time to do so is between late September and November.
If you’re buying kale plants from the store to transplant to your garden space, the best time to set them outside is mid September through December and then again in February for our spring growing season.
Plant kale seeds or seedlings about 9″ to 12″ apart. The leaves need good airflow to prevent pests and disease.
Tips to Maximize Kale Leaves
Keep the soil evenly moist once you plant kale.
Have a frost cloth or old sheet ready to cover your kale plants should we see a Texas cold snap that drops temps well below freezing.
Protect your kale leaves from pests by covering your garden with garden mesh the day you plant kale. Common pests that munch on kale leaves include aphids and cabbage moth caterpillars. Pests on mature kale plants might just mean you notice a couple holes in your leaves one day and before you know it, the caterpillars literally devour the leaves from the kale overnight.
If you do notice some aphids on the stems or the undersides of the kale leaves, don’t stress. You can remove them by hand by rubbing the stem or leaf between your fingers. If you see caterpillars, pick them off by hand. Checking back daily and handling pests on sight is typically enough to prevent an infestation.
If your pest issue becomes out of hand, use organic measures like Bt spray to handle caterpillars and insecticidal soap for aphids.
How to Harvest Kale
Most kale leaves are ready to harvest in 55 to 80 days from planting. Leaves should be about the length of your hand, and the plant should be at least a foot tall or so. Whenever you harvest from a kale plant, take the outer leaves first and leave the inner leaves to continue growing. That’s how kale grows: from the inside out. Harvesting this way will therefore tell the plant to keep producing lots of nutritious leaves for you. That’s how you get continuous harvests from a couple of plants!
I like to gently twist each leaf away from the plant to snap the stem at the base, but you can also use a clean pair of scissors or needle nose pruners.
Grow with us
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