Yes, you certainly can grow kale in Singapore!
Here are Tuscan Kale and Curly Kale plants, grown from organic seed. I have grown them in pots in the past but I have found that I had greater success growing kale in my vegepod, more so because of its placement, and the shade cover helps too.
While kale will always taste better after experiencing frost in cooler climates, it is still tasty when grown locally. It is important that you provide optimal growing conditions so that your plant can thrive and taste good.
How to grow kale in Singapore?
After you have germinated your kale seeds in a good seed raising mix, make sure you place the seedlings in a location where it gets a very bright light or a very small amount of morning sun (make sure the soil does not dry out) for a few weeks.
At this stage, if there is not enough sun, your plants will grow leggy, as young plants it cannot be exposed to too much sun or it will wilt and die.
After the first few weeks, it is time to “harden off” your plants. You do this by introducing it to a greater amount of sun in the course of one week.
Around this time, I usually transplant the seedling into a soil mix that retains some moisture but is free draining, my preferred soil recipe includes compost, horticultural sand, and worm castings.
Kale does best in morning sun or late afternoon sun in Singapore. This is because it is just too hot around mid day and the early afternoon and your kale won’t make for good eating afterwards. The leaves will be tough and taste bitter.
However, if afternoon sun is what you have to work with, invest in shade cloth which is available at garden nurseries. It is especially useful in cutting out sun and the heat that comes with it.
As a cut-and-come-again plant, like many green leafy vegetables, harvest when the leaves are still tender and green, because once it gets thicker, the texture will feel a bit tough when you chew it. Not very pleasant at all.
Some pests to look out for include cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, and spider mites. It pays to check the undersides of leaves regularly. I have had plants that were so badly eaten that it looked like it could never recover from the damage.
Which Kale to Grow?
There are different varieties available locally, and you should pick a variety that you prefer eating. I am more partial towards curly kale because I like the taste and texture, but also, it grows very quickly and doesn’t need much space to grow. It can be used in a smoothie or made into kale chips.
I still enjoy growing Tuscan Kale but because it grows to be rather tall, I prefer not to give up important real estate to growing it, and one plant is more than enough for me.
If you’re juicing with kale every day, you’ll probably need at least 4 plants. The leaves grow pretty quick, just make sure that the plant is well watered.
It likes seaweed solution, so please give it a foliar feed once in a while. For more specific instructions on the frequency of application, refer to the directions on the bottle. Personally if I am disciplined enough, I feed my plants every two weeks. Fertilising is also a good idea once in a while.
And if you’re wondering where to get Tuscan Kale or Curly Kale seeds, you can buy them on Carousell or check with seed suppliers.
It’s not too difficult to grow, so please try your hand at it if you love kale!