Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash
First though, let's determine if your kale plant is ready to be harvested, is to hold your hand up beside it. As a general rule of thumb, if your hand is bigger than the kale, then you’ll need to wait a little longer – maybe another week or so. If your hand is the same size or smaller than your kale, though, then it is ready to be harvested!
If this system doesn’t seem rigorous enough for you, then another option is to get the ruler out and measure your plant. If it is at least nine inches high, then the bigger leaves near the bottom should be ready to eat.
To avoid damaging your little plant, you will need some tools to help you collect your kale. A sharp knife or scissors will do the job nicely when removing the kale leaves from the stalk. As you harvest, you should aim for the largest and oldest leaves first – these older leaves are generally near the bottom, while those smaller and younger leaves are at the top.
As tasty as it is, if you want your plant to continue to produce, you need to resist harvesting all of your kale in one go. You should aim to leave at least five central leaves in tact; ideally, the ones you keep should be the smallest, innermost leaves, as that is where the new growth originates. These remaining leaves ensure your plant can continue to photosynthesize and produce new growth. Keeping some of your kale in tact seems like a reasonable sacrifice when the long-term pay off is more delicious kale!