Kale is part of the mustard or cabbage family (Brassicaceae), so it’s related to broccoli, cauliflower. Known as a superfood and a nutritional powerhouse, kale is often referred to as the queen of greens. It is mostly rich in lutein, folate, vitamins A,C, E and K, magnesium, iron and contains a load of anti-oxidants.
In Perth it can be grown for most of the year, however it easiest to grow over winter, when it is more naturally ‘in season’. In fact, cold temperatures make the leaves even sweeter! In summer you need to be dedicated to grow kale in Perth and it will need to be grown under shade, very well watered and screened from insects.
If you have ever wondered how to grow kale in Perth, Western Australia then look no further. A relatively simple plant to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing kale in Perth, but get these right and you will be laughing.
When to plant kale in Perth:
While you can plant kale all year round in Perth. You should aim to plant kale so that it matures and is ready to pick while the weather is still cold. This means that in the northern parts of Western Australia, you could plant in early July whereas in southern regions, you could plant as late as September.
Types of kale in Western Australia:
There are over 50 types of kale, both ornamental and edible varieties of kale. However, three varieties are readily available to grow here in WA:
- Dwarf Curly kale – A compact kale, leafy green with mildly sweet, crinkled leaves
- Red Russian kale – A blue-green kale variety with purplish-red veins
- Black Toscana kale – A long dark-green/blue leaf variety of kale.
How to grow kale at home:
Kale is an easy vegetable to grow and care and can be done so in the ground or in pots. I actually prefer to grow kale in pots as it is easier to move around and control the temperature.
Kale can be directly sowed into the garden or transplanted as seedling (direct seeds will mature in 55 to 75 days, while transplants will speed up the process, ready for harvest in about 30 to 40 days.
- Sow kale seeds approximately 1cm deep, 30-45cm apart.
- Kale seeds will take about one week to germinate.
When to harvest kale:
Kale is a biennial, so you can harvest it in winter and you will also see a late spurt of growth in spring before the plant goes to seed.
The flavour of kale is actually improved by frosty conditions. A few freezing nights and it will help transform its starches into natural sugars. This is why we recommend you plant around August here in Perth.
Young kale leaves can be harvested quite early on. However when the plant ages, it will produce a larger batch of older leaves that you can harvest from the outside of the plant. Pluck individual leaves and avoid cutting any developing kale buds at the centre of your kale plant.
Storing kale at home:
Kale is best enjoyed fresh, straight from the plant. However if you have an ample supply harvest whole leaves, it’s all about avoiding excess moisture. Wrap the bunch of kale in a layer of paper towel, and store in a supermarket plastic bag or a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Fresh kale should be in great shape for around one week.
Kale care and common problems:
Kale plants are particularly prone to cabbage aphids. They are also susceptible to the larvae of the cabbage white moth, which chew large holes in leaves. Treat with a natural vegie and herb spray.
A good tip is to rotate planting kale with other crops, as it will help to avoid developing a clubroot infection.
Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides: