Looking forward to growing healthy as well as delicious kale in your garden? This brief guide How to grow Kale in India will come in handy!
Kale is a cold-weather vegetable, cultivated for its edible and highly nutritious leaves that have a crunchy and nutty flavor. A close cousin of cabbage, kale comes in two varieties – Brassica napus with ruffled leaves, and Brassica oleracea having smooth-textured leaves. You can stir fry it or use it raw in a salad after removing its hard stems. It is advised to use it fresh, as its mild taste is at the peak that time, but as it grows older, the leaves start turning bitter. Let’s have a detailed look at How To Grow Kale in India!
Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea var. sabellica
Check out our article on growing vegetables in Mumbai here.
Kale Planting Season
Kale is a cold season vegetable and generally cultivated from October to March, but you can grow them year-round as well, provided that you care for them accordingly. The optimal months for sowing its seeds in India are from September to November.
How To Grow Kale in India?
Generally, kale is propagated through seeds in the month of October to November. You can either grow them in a container or yard. For pots, choose a well-draining, regular potting mix. And after 4-6 weeks, once the leaves start emerging, transplant them to the garden. For outdoors, sow its seeds 15-18 inches apart and half inches deeper in well-draining, loamy soil or use seedling tray filled with seed starting mixture and transplant the seedling in the garden after 5-6 weeks.
Snip off 3-4 inches cutting from the main stem of a healthy kale plant. Remove the side leaves from the stem except for some top leaves. Dip this cutting in a rooting hormone before planting. Then, plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Mist it regularly and keep in partial shade. Shoots will emerge within 3-4 weeks. You can transplant this later in the garden or bigger pot after 2-3 months when it shows good growth.
Requirements for Growing Kale in India
This cold-hardy vegetable loves abundant full sun nurturing and appreciates 6-8 hours of full sunlight per day. But, for the hotter places, giving them partial shade during the afternoon, yields better growth. For potted kale plants, keep them near a south-facing window.
Kale grows better in consistently moist soil, so keep the soil slightly wet all the time. Do not let the soil become completely dry. Watering them once a week is good during winters, but for hotter days, increase this rate. Water them only during morning or evening times. In the case of potted kale, water evaporates more frequently. Put your finger in the topsoil and if it feels dry, water them.
For cultivating kale in a pot, choose 8-12 inches container. Make sure it has ample drainage holes to let the excess water drain out.
A well-draining soil enriched with a good amount of organic matter or well-rotted compost is a key to growing kale successfully. It prefers loamy soil, with a pH of 6-7.
It prefers 16 to 25 °C temperature. For keeping the soil temperature lower, you can either move the potted kale indoors or cover the base of the soil with straw or grass mulch.
Kale Plant Care for Pots
- Plants grown in containers need more attention compared to the ones growing in the garden. They need frequent watering and feeding, as the water flushes the nutrients from the pot.
- You can apply organic fertilizer like cow manure every 6-8 weeks or use 8-4-4 water-soluble fertilizer diluted with 2 liters of water every 40-50 days for supplementing its growth.
- Trim out the unhealthy looking leaves from the plant and keep the soil cool and moistened by applying a layer of straw mulch.
- During winter, when the plant in pot achieves good growth, give it support using bamboo sticks.
You can harvest its leaves around 2 months of its planting. Do not make a big delay in harvesting, as with time its leaves become bitter and lose its fresh taste. Snip off the outermost and largest leaves first. Make sure to not choose stems with terminal or central buds as it will help your plant to grow further.
You can even store its leaves up to a week by keeping it in a plastic bag in a refrigerator.