Best Tips For Growing Kale In Wisconsin

Growing Kale in Wisconsin

If you’re a gardener looking into growing kale in Wisconsin, you’re in luck! Kale is a versatile and nutritious vegetable with some helpful tips that can thrive in the Wisconsin climate. Whether you prefer the sweeter flavor of fall-planted kale or the spring variety, this leafy green can be successfully grown in your garden.

To start, make sure you plant your kale 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost for optimal results. Remember that kale requires full sun and well-drained soil, which can be enhanced by adding compost or organic matter. Consistent watering, about 1 to 1.5 inches per week, is crucial for healthy growth. Additionally, feeding your plants with a continuous-release plant food will maximize your harvest.

Take into consideration the cooler temperatures and possibility of frost in Wisconsin, as extreme heat can cause kale to bolt and result in bitter leaves. Lastly, choose from different varieties like curly kale, lacinato kale, Russian kale, or Portuguese kale based on your personal preference.

This article will walk you through the process of growing kale in wisconsin. If you want a more comprehensive guide from planting to harvesting kale, check out this guide.

Key Takeaways

– Plant kale in spring or fall for optimal growth when growing kale in Wisconsin.

– Space kale 18 to 24 inches apart in full sun and well-drained soil.

– Improve soil by adding aged compost or other organic matter.

– Regularly feed plants with a continuous-release plant food for optimal harvest.

Why You Should be Growing Kale in Wisconsin

If you’re considering growing kale in Wisconsin, there are plenty of reasons why kale is a great addition to any Wisconsin garden.

First and foremost, kale is a cool-season crop that thrives in the moderate temperatures of Wisconsin. It can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F and even taste better in colder weather. So, if you’re looking for a vegetable that can withstand the unpredictable Wisconsin climate, kale is the way to go.

Not only is kale hardy and resilient, but it’s also incredibly nutritious. It’s packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium and iron. Plus, it’s low in calories and high in fiber. So not only will you be able to enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables all season long, but you’ll also be nourishing your body with nutrient-dense greens.

Another reason to grow kale in Wisconsin is its versatility. You can use it fresh in salads or smoothies or cook it up into delicious dishes like soups or sautés. Kale chips are also a popular snack option that’s both healthy and tasty.

Overall, growing kale in Wisconsin is a smart choice for any gardener. With its ability to withstand cold temperatures and its nutritional value, there’s no reason not to give it a try. So get out there and start planting your own batch of delicious and nutritious kale!

Interesting Facts About Kale

Did you know that kale is considered a superfood and it’s packed with nutrients and health benefits? It’s true! Kale is not only delicious, but it’s also incredibly good for you. Here are some interesting facts about kale that you may find fascinating:

– Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium and potassium.

– This leafy green vegetable is known for its antioxidant properties, which can help protect your body against harmful free radicals.

– Kale has been linked to numerous health benefits. These include reducing the risk of heart disease, improving digestion, and supporting a healthy immune system.

– With its low-calorie content and high fiber content, kale is also great for weight management and promoting satiety.

So why not incorporate this amazing vegetable into your diet? Whether you enjoy it raw in salads or cooked in soups and stir-fries, there are plenty of ways to add kale to your meals. Plus, when you are growing kale in Wisconsin, it allows you to have access to fresh and nutritious greens throughout the year. Just remember to follow the best tips for growing kale in Wisconsin to ensure optimal growth and harvest.

When to Plant Kale in Wisconsin

When you are growing kale in Wisconsin, it’s important to know the best time to plant. Kale is a cool-season crop that thrives in moderate climates, and Wisconsin falls within its ideal growing zones.

To ensure successful growth, plant kale in late winter or early spring for seedlings or 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date for a fall harvest.

Growing Zones for Growing Kale in Wisconsin

For successfully growing kale in Wisconsin, you should consider the growing zones that are suitable for this cool season crop. Kale thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, which covers most of Wisconsin. These zones have the right temperature range and climate conditions for kale to grow well.

When choosing a location for planting kale, make sure it receives at least 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight per day. Full sun exposure is ideal for optimal growth and flavor development.

Additionally, ensure that the soil is consistently damp but well-drained to prevent waterlogging and root rot. Amending the soil with compost or fertilizer before planting will provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

You can cultivate thriving kale plants in your Wisconsin garden by selecting the appropriate growing zone and providing the right conditions.

How to Plant Kale in Wisconsin

To successfully plant kale in Wisconsin, you need to choose a preferred location that receives full sun or partial shade. Kale thrives in well-drained soil, so it’s important to prepare the soil by adding compost or organic matter before planting.

To start kale from seeds, sow them in light, well-draining soil and keep the soil consistently moist during germination. Transplanting seedlings is another option, and you can space them 12 to 18 inches apart.

Additionally, consider successive planting for a continuous harvest by staggering your kale plantings throughout the growing season.

Preferred Location and Sun requirements For Growing Kale in Wisconsin

Kale thrives in the full sun of a south-facing garden bed, basking in the warm rays that nourish its vibrant green leaves. To ensure optimal growth and yield, it’s important to choose the right location and provide adequate sunlight for your kale plants. Here are some key considerations:

1. Sun Exposure: Kale needs at least 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight per day. Planting it in a spot with full sun will maximize its growth potential.

2. South-Facing Garden Bed: Position your kale plants in a south-facing garden bed to take advantage of the sun’s trajectory throughout the day. This will ensure that they receive ample sunlight.

3. Afternoon Shade: While kale prefers full sun, it can also tolerate partial shade. If you live in an area with scorching afternoon heat, providing some shade during those hours can help prevent bolting and keep the leaves tender and flavorful.

You can create ideal growing conditions for your kale plants in Wisconsin by selecting an appropriate location and ensuring sufficient sun exposure.

Preferred Soil and Preparation for Kale

For optimal results, you’ll want to ensure that your soil is well-prepared and nutrient-rich before planting kale in Wisconsin. Start by testing the pH of your soil using a do-it-yourself kit or through a regional Cooperative Extension office.

Kale prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. If necessary, adjust the pH by adding lime to raise it or sulfur to lower it.

Next, enrich the soil by mixing in aged compost or other organic matter. This will improve the texture and fertility of the soil, providing essential nutrients for your kale plants. Consider using Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil, which is specially formulated to enhance soil quality.

Before planting, prepare the bed by removing any weeds or debris and loosening the soil with a garden fork or tiller. Mix in the compost or organic matter thoroughly to ensure even distribution.

By taking these steps to prepare your soil properly, you’ll create an ideal growing environment for your kale plants in Wisconsin.

How to Plant Kale Seeds When Growing Kale in Wisconsin

Prepare your soil by testing the pH and enriching it with aged compost or organic matter to create an optimal growing environment for planting kale seeds in Wisconsin.

Start by selecting a sunny location for your kale garden bed. Kale thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Before sowing the seeds, ensure that the soil temperature is around 60 to 70°F. Sow the seeds directly into well-draining soil, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart, and cover them lightly with soil.

Keep the soil consistently moist during germination, which usually takes about 7 to 14 days.

Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them out if necessary, leaving only the strongest plants at least 18 inches apart.

Water regularly and provide adequate nutrition using a water-soluble fertilizer throughout the growing season for healthy kale plants in Wisconsin’s climate.

How to Transplant Kale Seedlings Outdoors

When you transplant your kale seedlings, you’ll be amazed at how resilient they are and the sense of accomplishment it brings to see them thriving in their new home. Here are some tips to help you successfully transplant your kale seedlings:

– Choose a sunny location: Kale thrives in full sun, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight per day.

– Prepare the soil: Before transplanting, prepare the soil by adding compost or aged organic matter to improve its fertility and drainage.

– Dig planting holes: Dig holes that are slightly larger than the root ball of your seedling. Space the holes 12 to 18 inches apart to give each plant enough room to grow.

– Transplant carefully: Gently remove the seedling from its container and place it in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Firmly press down on the soil around the seedling to eliminate any air pockets.

Successive Planting when Growing Kale in Wisconsin

To ensure a continuous harvest of kale, gardeners can implement successive planting methods. This involves planting new kale seedlings or seeds at regular intervals throughout the growing season. By staggering the planting dates, you can extend your harvest and have a fresh supply of kale for longer periods.

Start by calculating the average maturity date of your chosen variety of kale. Then, subtract this number from your expected first frost date to determine when to plant your last crop. For example, if your kale variety takes 60 days to mature and the first frost is expected in 90 days, you should plant your last crop 30 days before the first frost.

Once you have determined the ideal planting schedule, prepare the soil by amending it with compost or fertilizer. Plant the seedlings or sow seeds according to their recommended spacing guidelines and water them well after transplanting or sowing.

By implementing successive planting methods, you can enjoy a continuous supply of fresh and nutritious kale throughout Wisconsin’s growing season.

How to Care For Your Kale When Growing Kale in Wisconsin

To successfully care for your growing kale in Wisconsin, it’s crucial to pay attention to watering and fertilizing.

Water your kale consistently, providing 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week to keep the soil moist.

Additionally, regularly feed your plants with a continuous-release plant food for optimal growth and harvest.

Remember that proper watering and fertilizing will help ensure healthy and thriving kale plants in Wisconsin.

Watering When Growing Kale in Wisconsin

For optimal growth and health, make sure you water your kale plants in Wisconsin consistently. Provide them with approximately 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week. Watering is crucial for caring for your kale plants. It helps keep the soil moist and provides necessary hydration for the plant’s development.

To water effectively, water deeply and evenly. Make sure the entire root system gets moisture. Avoid overhead watering as it can lead to fungal diseases. Instead, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the base of the plants.

Regularly check the soil to determine if watering is needed. Insert your finger into the soil up to your knuckle. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water.

Remember, consistent and moderate watering promotes healthy kale growth and prevents wilting or stress during dry periods.

Fertilizing Kale in Wisconsin

Consistent and regular fertilization is essential for promoting healthy growth and maximizing the yield of your kale plants in Wisconsin. Kale is a nutrient-hungry plant, so it’s crucial to provide it with the right nutrients at the right time.

Start by applying a balanced slow-release fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics®, when planting your kale seedlings or seeds. This will provide a steady supply of nutrients over time.

As your kale plants grow, continue to feed them with a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks throughout the growing season. Look for a fertilizer specifically formulated for leafy greens or vegetables to ensure that it contains the necessary nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Remember to follow the package instructions for proper dosage and application methods. By consistently fertilizing your kale plants, you can ensure they have all the nutrients they need to thrive and produce an abundant harvest in Wisconsin’s climate.

Recommended Varieties When Growing Kale in Wisconsin

With its cold-tolerant nature and versatility in the kitchen, kale is a fantastic addition to any Wisconsin garden, and there are several recommended varieties that thrive in this state. When choosing kale varieties for your Wisconsin garden, it’s important to consider their ability to withstand colder temperatures and still produce flavorful leaves.

One popular variety is Winterbor kale, which is known for its hardiness and ability to handle frost. Its tightly curled leaves make it an attractive addition to the garden as well.

Another excellent choice is Red Russian kale, which has beautiful purple stems and tender leaves that have a slightly sweet flavor. This variety performs well in cooler climates and can tolerate light frosts without losing its taste or texture.

If you’re looking for a more ornamental option, try Scarlet kale with its stunning deep red leaves that add visual interest to any garden bed.

For those who prefer a milder flavor, Dwarf Blue Curled Vates kale is an ideal choice. This compact variety produces small, curly leaves that are tender and perfect for salads or sautés.

Lastly, consider Lacinato or Tuscan kale, also known as Dino Kale or Cavolo Nero. This Italian heirloom variety has dark green blistered leaves that are exceptionally flavorful when cooked.

By choosing these recommended varieties of kale for your Wisconsin garden, you can ensure a bountiful harvest of delicious and nutritious greens throughout the growing season.

How to Harvest Kale

To harvest your kale and enjoy its fresh, nutritious leaves, follow these simple steps:

1. Start from the bottom: Begin by harvesting the lowermost leaves of your kale plant. These are usually the oldest and largest leaves that’ve reached their ideal size and color. By removing these leaves first, you encourage new growth from the center of the plant.

2. Use a sharp knife or scissors: To avoid damaging the plant, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the kale leaves at their base. Make sure to cut just above where the leaf connects to the stem.

3. Harvest in small amounts: Instead of harvesting all your kale at once, it’s best to harvest in small amounts as needed. This not only ensures a continuous supply of fresh kale but also encourages further growth and allows you to enjoy tender young leaves.

Remember to always wash your harvested kale thoroughly before consuming it. Kale can be enjoyed raw in salads, cooked in various dishes such as sautés and soups, or even made into crispy kale chips.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your homegrown kale throughout its growing season while reaping its numerous health benefits.

How to Store Kale

Store your freshly harvested kale by washing it thoroughly, patting it dry, and storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it crisp and fresh for longer. Properly storing kale is essential to maintain its flavor and texture. Here are some tips on how to store kale:

1. Wash: Start by rinsing your kale leaves under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Gently rub each leaf with your fingers to ensure a thorough cleaning.

2. Dry: After washing, use a salad spinner or pat dry the leaves with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Excess moisture can lead to wilting and spoilage, so make sure the leaves are as dry as possible.

3. Airtight Container: Place the dried kale leaves in an airtight container, such as a resealable plastic bag or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. This will help prevent moisture loss and protect the leaves from absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.

4. Refrigerate: Store the container of kale in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, where temperatures are slightly cooler and more consistent. This will help prolong its freshness.

By following these steps, you can extend the shelf life of your freshly harvested kale and enjoy its nutritious benefits for longer periods of time. Remember to check on your stored kale regularly and discard any wilted or spoiled leaves before using them in your recipes.

Common Pests / Diseases When Growing Kale in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, kale plants can be affected by common pests and diseases that can hinder their growth and health. Aphids are small insects that can infest kale plants, causing yellowing leaves and stunted growth. Cabbageworms are another pest to watch out for, as they feed on the leaves of kale plants, leaving behind holes and chewed foliage.

Additionally, black rot is a fungal disease that affects kale plants, causing dark lesions on the leaves and stems. Taking proactive measures to control these pests and diseases is essential for maintaining healthy kale plants in Wisconsin.


Signs of aphid infestation, such as curled leaves or sticky residue.

If you spot aphids, you can try spraying them off with a strong stream of water or using insecticidal soap to kill them.

Additionally, attracting natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings to your garden can help keep aphid populations in check.

Control and Prevention of Aphids

Protect your kale plants from aphids by employing natural pest control methods. Start by regularly inspecting your plants for signs of aphid infestation, such as curled leaves or sticky residue. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to your garden, as they feed on aphids.

Additionally, you can create a homemade insecticidal soap using water and mild dish soap to spray directly onto the affected plants. Remember to repeat these methods as necessary to keep aphids at bay and ensure healthy kale growth.


Start by regularly inspecting your plants for any signs of these pests, such as chewed leaves or small green worms. Remove any affected leaves immediately to reduce the spread of cabbageworms.

Control and Prevention of Cabbageworms

Keep an eye out for those pesky cabbageworms while growing kale in Wisconsin, as they can quickly munch away at your leafy greens!

To control and prevent cabbageworms, regularly inspect your plants for eggs and larvae. Handpick any visible worms and destroy them.

You can also use floating row covers to physically block the adult moths from laying their eggs on the plants. Additionally, you can introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings to help keep their population in check.

Applying organic insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can be an effective solution as well.

Black Rot

V-shaped Lesions: One of the most characteristic symptoms of black rot is the appearance of V-shaped lesions on the leaves. These lesions are typically dark brown or black and start at the leaf margins, extending inward toward the central vein of the leaf. The V-shaped pattern is a key diagnostic feature.

Yellowing of Leaves: Infected leaves often turn yellow (chlorotic) between the veins. This yellowing may spread from the edges of the V-shaped lesions.

Leaf Wilting: As the disease progresses, infected leaves may wilt, become necrotic (dead), and eventually die. The wilting and necrosis often follow the V-shaped lesions.

Control and Prevention of Black Rot

Planting kale in well-drained soil and providing consistent moisture can help control and prevent black rot, a common disease in kale. To further protect your plants, avoid overhead watering, which can spread the disease. Rotate crops every 2-3 years to reduce the risk of infection.

Remove any infected leaves or plants immediately and dispose of them properly. Regularly inspect your kale for signs of black rot and take prompt action if detected to prevent its spread.


In conclusion, growing kale in Wisconsin can be a rewarding experience if you follow the right tips and techniques. You can ensure optimal growth and a successful harvest by considering factors such as planting time, sunlight, soil quality, watering, and feeding.

It’s important to choose the right variety of kale based on personal preference. Additionally, being aware of potential pests and diseases will help you take necessary precautions.

With proper care and attention, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious kale throughout the growing season in Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *