Credit: Carol Pope

Kale grows like a weed - luckily, it tastes much better

Collect kale seed to grow inside all winter as delicious and healthy microgreens

For those of you familiar with the incredible self-seeding power of kale, particularly the amazing ‘Red Russian’ variety – known to sprout up in gravel, sand and even between sidewalk cracks – you may wonder what to do with all the seed these plants produce. That is, assuming you let your kale plants go to seed.

In my garden, I snip kale leaves and buds like crazy for salads, soups and suppers, but often after three garden seasons, the plants are getting a bit scraggly . . . and it’s time to start planting some new kale starts.

While I nurture new kale plants in pots, I often let the mature plants in my garden go to seed – something that happens very fast once you stop snipping off the buds and let nature take its course.

In a jiffy, you’ll have a gorgeous burst of edible yellow kale flowers (and the bees will thank you for this) and then your plant will twist into narrow supple-green pods that will eventually take on a yellowish tough texture. When you can pop a pod open to find it full of tiny black seeds, you’ll know it’s time to start collecting.

Gathering Kale Seeds

To gather kale seeds, simply snip off the pods and let them fall into a large paper bag. Leave the bag of pods to dry somewhere for a month or so, preferably inside, and then close the bag on the top and shake the dickens out of it. Do this with all your might and you will be rewarded by a kazillion kale seeds rolling around the bottom of the bag.

While there may be some pods with seeds still intact that require extra encouragement, if you’re like me, you might simply toss them along with any kale stems and plant debris into your compost. After all, you’ll have tons of seed already, and this way you will be pleasantly surprised to find kale seedlings coming up in your gardens next year wherever compost is spread.

If you’re unhappy with the location of these volunteers, you can simply shift them to where you want them to grow.

Back to your bounty of seeds, once you have set aside some for next season’s kale garden (and given some to your friends and even a few strangers) you will still have an abundance. At my house, excess seeds are grown inside under grow lights as winter microgreens and simply snipped prior to meals to be enjoyed in soups, sandwiches, salads, omelettes. In addition to adding tons of nutrients, they are a fresh and yummy green in the midst of dark and dreary winter.