How to Harvest Kale

Kale (Brassica oleracea) is a cold-weather crop and high nutritional value green that is a biennial grown as an annual. Scotch varieties have grayish-green leaves that are curly, and Siberian varieties have bluish-green leaves that are less curly. Kale grows well in all U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones when planted outdoors four to five weeks before the last expected frost in well-drained soil and full sun.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Washcloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Bucket or container

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Step 1

Pour isopropyl alcohol on a washcloth and wipe both sides of a sharp knife blade with the alcohol. Allow the alcohol to dissipate from the knife blade.

Step 2

Grasp a small kale leaf that is about 4 to 6 inches tall with one hand and cut it from the plant with the sharp, disinfected knife to harvest baby greens for salads or juicing. Place the leaves in a bucket or container as you cut each one to keep them clean. Disinfect the knife again when you move to the next plant.

Step 3

Harvest entire kale plants at 60 to 80 days after germination when they are full size and no longer growing larger. Gather the leaves of one kale plant upward and hold them in this position. Cut across the bottom of the plant, horizontally about 1 inch above ground level to harvest the entire plant for side dishes, main dishes, soups or stews. Place the plants in a container to transport them indoors for storage or use. Disinfect your knife after cutting each plant to prevent spreading disease to leaves.

Step 4

Store fresh kale in a refrigerator set close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 10 to 14 days before using it in dishes. Store it in an open container with good air circulation to prevent wilting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Harvesting kale after a frost increases the sugar content in the leaves for a richer and sweeter taste.
  • In many area, you can leave kale growing in the garden throughout the winter.
  • Kale may be grown in containers or in a garden.


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