Packed with nutrients, kale is a powerhouse vegetable that you can enjoy in a variety of ways. It’s delicious when added to your green smoothies, sautéed in a stir-fry, or mixed into a salad.
Growing kale in your garden has many different benefits. Not only is it rewarding to grow your own food, but it’s also better for you and the environment. Read on to discover the top five benefits of growing kale at home!
1. Pesticide-Free Kale
One of the most significant benefits of growing kale is that your leafy greens will be pesticide-free! Produce from the grocery store is often sprayed with pesticides that prevent bacteria growth and disease while reducing insects and pests. This process is used to produce crops in bulk, but you can skip the pesticides when growing at home.
In fact, kale is a vegetable that is known to be heavily sprayed with multiple pesticides. According to data from the Department of Agriculture, one study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that almost 60 percent of kale sold in the United States was contaminated with pesticide residue.
Kale also appears on EWG’s dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticide residue. On the list, kale, collard, and mustard greens rank at spot three.
Growing kale in your garden means you control the plant’s environment down to what soil and fertilizer you use. If possible, opt for growing kale in organic soil and use an organic fertilizer. Popular organic fertilizers include bone meal, seaweed, worm castings, compost, or a fish emulsion.
2. More Sustainable and Fresh
Another added benefit of growing kale is not only is it fresher, but it’s also more sustainable. Food production has a huge impact on the environment, from growing crops to transporting produce to grocery stores across the country.
Growing food means you know exactly where it comes from while significantly reducing your overall environmental impact. Kale that you grow in your garden is fresher than the grocery store, as it can be harvested whenever you want to cook. Because of this, you’re less likely to throw away your fresh greens and, therefore, reduce food waste.
Food production causes greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater withdrawals, and ocean pollution. Research shows that 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from producing food. Furthermore, 70 percent of freshwater withdrawals are for agricultural purposes, and 78 percent of all ocean and freshwater pollution is from food. These stats include overall food production, from livestock to fruits and vegetables.
While meat and dairy have a higher impact on the environment, growing crops like kale also impacts the planet. So, it’s easy to see why growing your own is a much better option.
3. Continuous Supply of Kale
On top of being pesticide-free and more sustainable, growing kale in the garden also ensures you have a constant supply. Kale has a relatively long growing season. It can be grown from the spring into the fall months in most locations with proper care. Kale can withstand temperatures from 25 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, kale doesn’t like intense heat or temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep it growing healthy throughout the summer season, plant yours in a location that receives partial shade and mulch on top of the soil, so it remains cool. Too much sun and heat stunt the plant’s growth and cause bitter-tasting leaves.
Keep a continuous supply growing by using the cut-and-come-again harvest method. This harvesting technique allows you to harvest the outer leaves of your kale plant while the new growth continues to grow in the middle of the plant. With this method, you’ll be sure to get multiple harvests off your plants!
4. Nutrient-Dense Superfood
Classified as a superfood, kale is high in multiple vitamins and minerals. It’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6, along with fiber, folate, and manganese — to name a few. This vegetable is packed with nutrients, and growing it at home ensures you have a regular supply to add to your diet.
Research has shown that eating cruciferous vegetables like kale helps prevent various cancers, improves digestion, and overall cardiovascular health. In particular, they significantly lower the risk of colon, rectum, and breast cancers.
Research published in the journal JRSM Cardiovascular Disease found that eating dark leafy greens regularly reduces cardiovascular disease by 15.8 percent. And a study conducted at Yonsei Health Center Yonsei University found that drinking kale juice daily significantly reduced cholesterol levels.
So, why not grow your own and reap the many health benefits of this nutrient-dense vegetable?
5. Cheaper Than the Grocery Store
And last but not least, another benefit of growing kale is the cheaper price tag. With rising food costs, growing kale is much cheaper than purchasing it at a store. These greens can be pretty expensive, especially if you buy organic. Ditch the costly grocery bill by growing your own instead.
Kale retails for roughly $1.50 a bundle in US grocery stores or $3.50 for a pre-washed bag. Kale can cost you more than $4.75 per bag if you purchase organic. But for only a few dollars, you can purchase seeds and plant multiple heads in your outdoor garden.
Grow yours in the ground or a container and harvest regularly to encourage the plant to keep producing. Do this by harvesting the large outer leaves and using your homegrown greens in various dishes in the kitchen — from salads to soups to smoothies and more.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll be enjoying fresh and delicious produce!
Grow Your Leafy Greens
If you haven’t already, try growing kale in your garden next. This plant is easy to care for, has a long growing season, and is high-producing which means lots of delicious leafy greens to enjoy!
Have you tried growing kale before? Leave a comment down below and share your experience.