UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA


Garden Help > Vegetables

UC Links

Photo: Joe Najera
Photo: Joe Najera
How to grow: Kale, UC Davis Good Life Garden

Pest management: Refer to the UC Integrated Pest Management website for pests of closely related crops including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Also refer to details in the how-to-grow link above.

The Basics

Kale, a member of the cole crop family, is a cool-season vegetable grown for its leaves. Leaves taste sweeter after exposure to cold temperatures.

When to plant

  • Transplant: Feb–Apr (maybe May), Sept–Oct (maybe Aug and Nov)
  • Direct Seed: Mar–Apr (maybe Feb and May), Sept–Oct (maybe Aug and Nov). Allow 6 weeks before ready for transplant

Harvest window

  • Harvest lower leaves when they reach 8–10" in size.
  • In general, smaller leaves are the most tender.

Care overview

  • Sow seeds ¼–½" deep, thin plants to 8–12" spacing.
  • Water deeply and infrequently, try to maintain consistent moisture.

More links

Recommended Varieties for Santa Clara County*

Dazzling Blue, OP This striking kale features blue-green savoyed leaves with dramatic pink midribs. Upright growth. New from Wild Garden Seed. 24–30" tall. Plant 12–18" apart.
Lacinato, OP Heirloom Italian variety is a gorgeous, striking plant with delicious dark blue-green leaves. 24–36" tall. Plant 18–24" apart.
Premier Blend, OP You'll get a beautiful variety of colors, textures, sizes, and flavors with this special five kale blend (Dwarf Blue Curled, Improved Dwarf Siberian, Lacinato, Premier, and Red Russian). 24–30" tall. Plant 12–18" apart.
Red Russian, OP Tasty and ornamental kale with red veins will prolifically produce sweet, tender young leaves all winter long. 24–30" tall. Plant 12–18" apart.
Tronchuda Beira, Hybrid Portuguese variety. Paddle-shaped, deep green leaves with mild, rich flavor. 24–30" tall. Plant 12–18" apart.
Tuscan Baby Leaf, OP More tender texture and sweeter flavor than mature kale leaves make this wonderful for salads. Plant close together and harvest when just 4–5" tall, leaving crown to regrow for multiple harvests.
Wild Garden Frills, OP Mix of mild and delicious Siberian heirloom kales Wild Red and Green Russian. Blue-green frilled leaves with red or white veins. Plant 18–24" apart.

* Many other varieties may also do well here in Santa Clara County. This list is based on UC Master Gardener trials, taste tests, and feedback from local growers.

Webmaster Email: webmaster-mgsantaclara@ucanr.edu