Gardening | Seed Starting | Vegetables

Kale Germination Time, Seed Spacing, & Tips

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Both easy to start and low maintenance to grow, kale deserves a space in your garden! Kale germination time is so quick. Growing kale is easy and this leafy green veggie heaps with antioxidants like Vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Kale is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to go through its full growth cycle. The first year, kale produces very healthy harvests for your family’s table. The second year, kale goes to seed for future sowing.

Kale seeds germinate quickly and effortlessly. For a fast reward, discover how to germinate kale seeds at home!

Kale Germination under the rainbow - Young Kale Plant Growing in a Black Grow Bag under a Double Rainbow with Trees in the background

What Do Kale Seeds Look Like?

Generally brown or charcoal in color, kale seeds resemble tiny spheres or balls. The kale seed pods look like tiny green or dried bananas.

Kale seeds are very small and germinate readily when given proper care. A single kale plant if left to go to seed, produces many small seed pods. These pods typically contain between three and eight kale seeds, and sometimes many more.

How Long Does Kale Take to Germinate?

If you’re wondering how long for kale seeds to germinate, you may be pleasantly surprised. Most times kale seeds germinate as quickly as two to four days from planting. Some seeds may take longer.

Very swift kale seed germination time makes this leafy veggie a fast favorite. Our daughters even love eating kale in their salads or drinking it up in smoothies. Yum!

Growing Kale with Kids

As one of the fastest germinating seeds, kale is super kid-friendly both in the garden and at the dinner table!

Children’s gardening efforts receive swift rewards when planting kale seeds. That first peek of green comes so quickly!

And just remember, kale of any size fits in a blender! Our family’s favorite green kale smoothies also have pineapple and strawberries. We usually finish with coconut milk or orange juice. Our kids love it and actually request it!

Kale Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie Ingredients Fresh Fruit and Veggies in a Blender

I love planting seeds like kale in empty egg cartons with my kids. It’s a memorable and fun gardening activity we can enjoy together every year!

Planting Kale Seeds in Fairy Gardens

Kale varieties work so wonderfully in kids’ fairy gardens because the kale seeds germinate so quickly!

Kale germination time can be as quick as two to four days in our experience. When you’ve got little ones watching their fairy gardens by the minute, this super-fast turnaround is much appreciated!

Another fun thing about growing kale with kids is that they can enjoy the tender leaves even while they’re still very small and young. For many kids, the planting is fun but the harvest is the real reward!

How to Germinate Kale Seeds (in a Pot, Outdoors, etc.)

I start by growing kale from seed indoors. It’s so quick and rewarding for me as an impatient gardener.

Growing kale is so easy! Here’s how to germinate kale seeds:

First, choose a container or location.

  • You can plant your kale indoors in a pot, egg carton, or seed tray.
  • You can also direct sow into the ground, an outdoor container, or a raised garden bed.

How to Germinate Kale Seeds in a Pot

Planting kale seeds indoors is easy! Follow these steps:

  1. Fill a small flowerpot, egg carton, or container with potting soil.
  2. Place two or three kale seeds on top of the soil. You can separate or thin them out later once they start to grow. Repeat for as many plants as you wish to grow.
  3. Gently scratch the kale seeds into the soil, about 1/4-inch down.
  4. Use a spray bottle filled with plain water to dampen the soil.
  5. Keep the soil moist by spraying as needed each day.
  6. Place seed trays, egg carton, or planters under grow lights, if available.
  7. Check daily to ensure proper watering, light, and watch for signs of growth!

How to Germinate Kale Seeds Outdoors

Direct sow kale once the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees.

  1. Simply drop a few seeds into your existing garden soil, spaced at least three inches apart.
  2. Poke the seeds down into the soil, between a quarter to a half-inch in depth.
  3. Water and wait!
  4. Check your seeds each day to watch for germination and water regularly to keep soil moist.
  5. When seedlings are four or five inches tall, thin or transplant to allow proper spacing.

Growing Kale in a Container Garden

Grow kale in a container for a low maintenance approach to this leafy green. Your larger containers can result in larger, more robust kale plants. Yet, even the smaller kale plants offer great nutrients and value in the garden.

  1. Fill your garden grow bag or planter with potting mix.
    • Tip: Look for potting mix with perlite or mix in your own for good soil aeration!
  2. Scatter a few kale seeds throughout the container, depending on its size. Shoot for a minimum container size of one gallon per plant if possible. Tip: It’s okay to start more than one seed in your pot to better ensure germination. You can always thin seedlings later.
  3. Poke the seeds down into the soil at least a quarter-inch.
  4. Water evenly and allow the seeds to soak up the sunshine.
  5. Check every day to monitor soil moisture and seed growth. Water again if needed.

Our kale plants also ended up being popular with the critters, unfortunately. We had quite a brazen groundhog come up on our deck and help himself to our entire kale plants!

That was after their long battle with the cabbage worms (cabbage butterfly larva), which we fought largely unsuccessfully.

Hopefully some better luck next time!

What Is the Best Kale Plant Spacing?

For us, spacing for kale worked out a bit like tank size for a goldfish. Kale grown in bigger pots gets large, yet kale is smaller pots is still tasty and enjoyable to grow.

The best kale plant spacing depends on where you’re growing your kale.

  • Spacing for kale seeds in seed starting trays may vary based on expected germination rate. I usually plant 2-3 kale seeds per cell. Thin or transplant them after they’re a few inches tall.
  • Kale plant spacing in outdoor gardens or raised beds works best with plants spaced 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • Spacing for kale plants in container gardens works best in a one-gallon container or larger.

We’ve planted kale in both large containers and small containers. The larger containers allow the kale plants to grow bigger. Smaller plants grew in the smaller planters, but the kale leaves were still just as delicious in salads!

Final Thoughts: Kale Germination Time and Tips

Kale germinates so easy for us! We will continue to grow it every year.

Since the seeds sprout so quickly, we never start these seeds in a wet paper towel. Still, you may enjoy our How To Germinate Seeds In Paper Towel Method post for lots of other seeds quickly!

What are your favorite things to make with kale? Let’s get a list going in the comments below.

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