Have you ever gone to grab that fresh kale you bought at the store the other day only to find a wilted, unappetizing specimen? It can really throw a clinker into your kitchen plans!
Why not avoid the disappointment altogether and raise kale in your own home? Indoors, no less!
Kale is a pretty low-maintenance crop, and once you get the basics down, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and nutritious greens all year long.
In this article, you’ll learn how to grow kale indoors, the varieties you may want to consider trying and where to find the best kale seeds.
Let’s jump in!
PS: Kale isn’t the only crop you can grow right inside your kitchen! Mint is another great option, so stop by our post on How to Grow Mint Indoors to learn more!
No matter if you’re an experienced gardener or just starting your gardening journey, growing kale in pots is easy and yields fast results. This means you’ll be eating your home-grown kale in no time!
But fresh kale has a whole lot more to offer than just easy care. All leafy greens are healthy foods, but kale is one of the most nutrient-dense plants you’ll find on the planet!
So what does that mean for you? Here are just some of the key health benefits you can expect when you start eating kale on a regular basis:
High in Antioxidants
The word “antioxidants” gets thrown around a lot. You’ve probably gotten the drift that they’re good for you, but maybe you’re still a little unclear what antioxidants actually do.
Due to genetics, environmental factors or lifestyle choices, your cells can become weakened or damaged by elements called free radicals. These compounds can create several health problems, including cancer and diabetes.
Antioxidants work to identify and neutralize free radicals, helping your cells stay healthy, strong and doing their thing!
(This is an incredibly condensed explanation, so if you’d like to learn about antioxidants in more detail, Healthline has a great article!)
Great Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the more well-known vitamins, and for good reason.
Immune support is Vitamin C’s most famous benefit, but it’s also essential for healthy muscles, bones, blood vessels and more.
Plus, Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant!
Protects Your Vision
Kale contains numerous vitamins and minerals that can help your vision stay clear and sharp:
- Vitamin E
Outstanding Source of Vitamin K
If you’re looking to increase your vitamin K intake, look no further than kale. By eating one cup of cooked kale daily, you’ll exceed your daily requirement by 500%!
Vitamin K can help your bones stay dense, potentially lowering your risk of fractures. What’s more, kale also contains the minerals calcium and phosphorous, which are also critical to healthy bones.
Wow, right? Kale is a true nutritional powerhouse!
Besides all of the health benefits associated with kale, it’s also extremely easy to incorporate into your regular daily diet:
- Add chopped kale to your salads
- Throw it in a smoothie with pineapple, banana or other fruits
- Use it in soup
- Saute with olive oil, garlic and a sprinkling of salt for a side dish
- Make kale chips
- Include it in a pasta recipe
The choice is up to you! And once you learn how to grow kale indoors, you’ll always have a steady supply at the ready.
Common Kale Varieties
There are three main types of kale out there:
- Curly leaf, including dwarf Siberian and blue curled
- Red, including red Russian and rebor
- Lacinato, also known as dino kale
Any of these types should grow well in an indoor setting.
Here are some top varieties to consider:
Dwarf Siberian Kale
This variety can withstand colder temperatures, making it a great option for growing outdoors during the cold winter months. It’s also ideal to grow indoors any time of the year!
Also referred to as Tuscan kale, dino kale has very hearty leaves which allow it to keep its firm texture even after being cooked.
It’s also delicious!
This variety is popular due to its magenta and purple-colored leaves.
One unique aspect is that redbor kale is almost completely red in color from the rib all the way to the leaf tip.
Red Russian Kale
This variety has large green leaves and vibrant purple veins.
Not only is red Russian kale nutritious, but it’s also beautiful!
What Supplies Do You Need to Grow Kale Indoors?
When it comes to growing kale indoors, it’s not quite rocket science. Hurray!
That being said, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right equipment before you get started.
Here’s your list of essentials:
Soil. Since you’re growing an edible indoor crop, using an organic potting mix is a wise choice. This top-notch option from Sungro is perfect for nourishing leafy greens.
A pot. You can successfully grow your kale in a pot as small as 6 inches in diameter. But if you have the space available, a pot that’s a little more spacious will yield the best results. Look for one that’s 8 inches or larger.
No matter what size pot you choose to use, make sure it has at least one drainage hole in the bottom.
Finally, look for a light-colored pot. Kale doesn’t appreciate its roots getting too warm, and a dark-colored pot can retain too much heat from the sunshine.
Here are a couple of options that you might want to consider:
High-quality kale seeds or seedlings. For your best shot at raising a thriving indoor kale garden, you need to start out with healthy seeds or seedlings.
Which leads into the nest section…
Where to Find Kale Seeds
Most varieties of kale seeds are easy to come by online, at big box stores, garden supply stores and even grocery stores.
But while there are many different places you can buy kale seeds, they’re not all the same quality.
Think of it like this:
When you go to the grocery store to buy eggs, do you want the ones that have come from the chickens who have been well-fed and cared for? Or would you rather have the ones from chickens that are malnourished and not maintained correctly?
Obviously, you want the eggs from healthy chickens. The same is true when it comes to kale seeds.
In our opinion, Botanical Interests has one of the best selections of high-quality kale seeds to choose from. If you’re looking for organic, heirloom or non-GMO seeds, you’ll find them here.
Botanical Interests also offers a seed blend packet that includes four kale varieties. This could be a great option if you’re still on the fence about which one you’d like to grow!
Caring for Your Indoor Kale Plants
Once you have your kale planted in its container, now it’s time to start nurturing it into something delicious. Kale is an easy-going plant that needs three main things:
Let’s look at each one:
Kale needs lots of sunshine to keep its chlorophyll running, so aim for about 6 to 8 hours of light per day. Place the pot of kale in a window that gets lots of sunlight. South-facing windows are your best bet.
If you don’t have a sunny window available, you can use a source of artificial light. This grow light is a popular choice for gardeners growing veggies, greens and herbs indoors.
However, keep in mind that kale is a cool-weather crop. Because of this, kale can become overheated, resulting in the plant wilting and even dying.
So if the sun is beating down or your window receives direct sun for more than the recommended time, move your kale plant into a shadier spot.
As with many vegetables or leafy greens, kale needs regular water to thrive and produce maximum nutrients. However, no plant does well with too much moisture, so use the soil itself as your guide for how often to water.
Your goal is to keep the soil is moist for roughly one inch into the topsoil.
Check the soil moisture by carefully sticking your finger into the pot. One inch is typically about the length from your fingertip to your first knuckle.
When the soil starts to feel slightly dry, it’s time for a drink.
Fertilize your kale plant about once every 7-10 days to give it the nutrition it needs to produce nutrients for you!
Use a water-soluble fertilizer mix, like this popular option. Just be aware that most organic fertilizers contain seaweed and fish products, and they can have a very strong smell. However, your kale plants will love it!
Most liquid fertilizers come in a concentrated form that you’ll need to dilute before use. Follow the package directions, and you should have enough liquid fertilizer to last you quite a while.
NOTE: Like any chemical, be sure to store your fertilizer away from children or pets.
How Long Until You Can Harvest Your Kale?
With the proper care, your kale will be ready for you to eat in as little as a few weeks (for microgreens) and about two months for full-sized kale.
Once your kale has grown to maturity comes the fun part: Harvesting and eating your freshly grown kale.
Kale is a cut-and-come-again plant, meaning that it will continue to produce new leaves as you harvest mature ones. As long as you keep taking good care of your kale, you should be able to enjoy fresh greens for months.
To harvest your kale correctly, start at the bottom of the stalk and move upwards. Be sure you leave a minimum of four leaves so that the plant can continue to grow.
Now all that’s left to do is rinse your kale off and get to eating!
Since kale is such an awesome source of nutrients and is so versatile in the kitchen, it just makes sense to grow it yourself and eat it often.
Growing kale in pots right in your own home can be a great strategy to make sure you include it in your diet on a regular basis. After all, the more convenient you make healthy eating, the more you’re likely to actually do it!
Have you ever tried growing kale indoors? Do you have any tips, tricks or kale recipes to share?
We’d love to hear them in the comments!