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Red Russian Kale Guide

Red Russian is an heirloom kale that is tender compared to other kales. Going through a light frost will sweeten the flavor and deepen the red color of the leaves. This is  a robust, cool season loving variety.


Kale grows best in cooler weather between 50°F-75°F. They do great in containers and small gardens. Bank on Seeds recommends direct seeding.

If Direct Seeding

  • Direct seed outside 1-2 weeks after last frost date; or
  • Direct seed into a container 12-14 inches deep and wide anytime of the year. It can be placed outside when the temperature is between 50°F-75°F; or

If Transplanting

Begin the growing season early and start the kale seeds indoors in trays or pods 6 weeks before the last frost date. Germination is best and fastest between 60°F-75°F. It can be transplanted outside 8 weeks later.

Sow kale seeds ½ inch deep and 8-12 inches apart with rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Germination will take 7-14 days.


Kale likes well-draining soil with lots of organic matter. They also like partial sun but can tolerate full sun if not too hot. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist and do not let it dry out fully. Check the top 2-3 inches of soil and if it is dry, then water it.

Apply mulch to the top of soil to retain moisture, regulate temperature and deter weeds. Use aged compost, manure or 5-10-10 fertilizer every 6-8 weeks.


Days to maturity take 50-55 days. Snip the outer leaves as you need for salads and garnishes and the center will continue producing leaves. Kale flowers are not used.


Aphids, Cutworms, cabbage looper and cabbage worms, flea beetles, slugs – handpick, neem oil, insecticidal soap, companion plant or spray with pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Black rot, clubroot - do not water from overhead, keep free of weeds, ensure enough air circulation, cut off affected parts, fungicide, neem oil, rotate crop every 3 years

*Companion plant kale with celery, basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, onions, and beets. Avoid planting with pole beans, strawberries, and tomatoes.*

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