Growing & Harvesting Kale Quickly & Efficiently for Maximum Yield

By Brian Mounts | Mar 25, 2020
Russian Red Kale Planted March 18

The 2020 growing season seems different to me.

In years past I worked on the garden but this year I’m doing the same thing with a little more vigor. These are interesting times.

Kale is not the most calorie dense food by a long shot but it is very nutritious and it can be used in many different ways.

If you grow it to maturity it becomes a sturdy leaf that can be cooked many different ways and if you harvest it young you have “baby kale”, a leafy green that is a bit more tender and sweet making it perfect for salads.

This Spring, I’m growing some Kale in different ways trying my best to do it as efficiently as possible.

I started with seeds packaged for the 2013 growing season which I found in my garage from years ago and wasn’t sure how they would do.

How I Planted My Russian Red Kale Seeds

I took a four paper cups I’ve had in my pantry for a couple of years and filled them 3/4 of the way up with a two year old seed starting mix I found in my garage.

I put about an inch of mix in the cup then added a bit of water. I then added another inch of mix and then added some more water. I then added about one more inch of mix and then added a bit more water.

This layering process helped to get the super old and dry seed starting mix moist from bottom to top with little stirring and mixing on my part.

I then placed a single seed in the middle of each cup and pressed it down slightly and covered it up with a pinch of moistened mix from the side walls of the cups.

I then covered the cups with plastic wrap I had in the kitchen and placed them in my garage which is slightly heated for our dogs. The wrap was held on to the cups tight by rubber bands from my desk drawer that I hadn’t used in about a year and the temperature in the garage where I placed them was a solid 58-60 degrees.

I decided I wouldn’t open the cups for two days and would let the moisture under the plastic wrap stay put. After two days I decided to remove the plastic from one of the four cups to see if it germinated better or worse than the others.

The first two cups sprouted on day 5. These were both cups I didn’t remove the plastic from after 48 hours.

The third cup, also still covered in plastic sprouted on day 6.

Russian Red Kale Sprouts in 5 Days on March 23

The fourth cup which I uncovered on day two still hasn’t sprouted.

Because this is Kale and it’s cold tolerant I decided to immediately move the cups with sprouts outside during the day to get sun and harden them to air movement. I put them in a $20 plastic greenhouse I bought from a discount store for about $20. It’s not heated and not airtight but it helps to prevent frost overnight and protect against strong cold winds.

The fourth cup is still in my garage and I’m waiting to see if it sprouts.

The next batch of seeds I plant I’ll be keeping the plastic on for all 5-6 days because that obviously worked for the first three plants.

Caring for Kale Sprouts

Over the next few days I’ll be updating this post with what I do but as far as I can tell baby Kale will be ready to start harvesting in small quantities after another 3-4 weeks. I plan on using the cut and come again method so the plant keeps producing leaves perpetually.

I may also dedicate one plant to go to maturity and eventually to seed so I can get some fresh seed that’s not so old.

I will update accordingly.