Crane Feather King is an F1 hybrid kale bred specifically for use as a cut flower in winter bouquets and flower arrangements. Deeply cut, frilly leaves in silvery grey surround a rosette of interior leaves that become a rich creamy white with a blush of pink in response to cold weather. The annual plants for a single, upright stem 50- 90cm (20-36") tall, depending on timing. Sow the seeds in flats in mid- to late summer (or earlier), and transplant out with the protection of lightweight row cover when the seedlings have two to three true leaves. We recommend the use of flower netting to keep the stems straight and upright. In 90-120 days the stalks will be ready for cutting and the leaves will be ready for amazing flower arrangements. Tight spacing encourages taller growth. Once the plants are 25cm (10") tall, begin to remove the lowest leaves to encourage thinner stems. These are technically edible, and may become sweeter after frost.
Grow with the companion product Crane Feather Queen for contrast and added charm.
Kale contains higher levels of beta-carotene than any other green vegetable, and is also high in vitamin C and calcium. Collards are not far behind. All are easy to grow, vigorous, nutritious, resistant to cold, and easy to harvest and prepare. And the greens even get sweeter after frost. They are perfect for juicing and a long-lasting green that stores well, delicious in crunchy salads. Continue reading below for some expert tips on how to grow kale and collards.
Brassica oleracea var. acephala
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Winter hardy to Zone 6.
Direct sow in early spring to mid-summer for summer to winter harvests. Or start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, and transplant out as soon as the soil warms up. Optimal soil temperature: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.
Sow 3-4 seeds 5mm (¼”) deep in each spot you where a plant is to grow. Thin to the strongest plant. Space 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 75-90cm (30-36″) apart.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Add lime to the bed 3 weeks prior to sowing. Kale likes well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter. This plant prefers plentiful, consistent moisture. Drought is tolerable, but quality and flavor of leaves can suffer. Mix ¼ cup of complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant, or use 1 cup beneath every 3m (10′) of seed furrow.
Kale and collards can both be grown as a cut and come again crop for salad mixes by direct-seeding and cutting when plants are 5-8cm (2-3″) tall. They will re-grow. Or pick leaves from the bottom up on mature plants as you need them. In spring, the surviving plants start to flower, so eat the delicious flowering steps and buds.
Diseases & Pests
Protect from cabbage moths and other insect pests with floating row cover. Prevent disease with a strict 4-year crop rotation, avoiding planting Brassicas in the same spot more than once every four years.
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes, as the acidic soil these plants thrive in can cause problems for Brassicas.
More on Companion Planting.