Ask a Question forum: Flowering Kale

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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Nov 27, 2013 6:09 PM CST
Okay, this is probably basic, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out whether to plant flowering kale in the spring or later for fall, or does it matter? If for spring, when should I plant? Like broccoli?

I always end up NOT planting it because I'm not sure on the timing. I'm in Georgia, so it's hot and humid in the summer.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Nov 27, 2013 6:30 PM CST
I assume you want them for fall and winter ornamental color?

From seed? I don't have experience with them or with Georgia summers, but what I read is:

Direct sow seeds 3-4 months before you expect full sized plants.
Also, you must direct sow at least 6-10 weeks before average first frost.
If you start in cells or small cups, pot-up as soon as any true leaves appear. They do not like being pot-bound at a young age.

However, they are still cool-weather crops. If your summer is too hot 6-10 weeks before first frost, (or even 3-4 months before) you have a problem.

It sounds to me from READING like maybe you should start summer plants in the coolest spot you have, maybe shady, maybe with frequent spray watering, as soon as you think it's cool enough for them to avoid bolting.

If you're growing them for edible leaves during a spring season, my guess is to treat them like slow-growing broccoli or cabbage. Figure out how early you can plant or start indoors. They should be able to take cold weather (maybe even a light frost?) , but if you need 3-4 months to grow full-size plants, you should count backwards from "when summer gets hot".

If your winters are so mild they might over-winter and come up again in the spring, I have no idea. But I didn't think ornamental kale were likely to stay tender for long.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Nov 27, 2013 6:33 PM CST
I started some with shade to the west in early July of 2012, Arlene, and they did okay, but just barely made it to size by the first freeze. If/when I try them again, I think I'll start them at least couple of weeks earlier and implement a better feeding program.
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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Nov 27, 2013 6:37 PM CST
Okay, thanks. I think I may just give the seeds to Jennifer then, sounds like it's too hot here to start for fall color. Oh well, I didn't have my heart set on them anyway.

Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Nov 27, 2013 6:50 PM CST
Aack! I never got around to planting my seeds last year!
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Nov 27, 2013 6:53 PM CST
Hilarious! There's always this year!
Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
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4susiesjoy
Nov 27, 2013 8:10 PM CST
If you can grow cabbage there I bet you can grow flowering kale. I start mine the same time I start my cabbage and I harvest the cabbage a long time before it's time for the flowering kale to bloom but the Kale gets enormous and when it starts getting cooler the colors get beautiful. I love them and so do the deer! This year is the first time I haven't grown them for years because the deer have been eating them when they're just starting to get really pretty so I thought I'd give it a rest and try again next year.
I don't know if it would work the same there but it might be worth a try just to start a couple to see.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Nov 27, 2013 8:16 PM CST
True, I can grow fall cabbage here. In fact, I still have a couple in the garden now. Not sure if they'll survive this cold spell, but it might be worth a try. I'll start them the same time. Thanks! (But I will try and keep them cooler).
Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
Composter Hellebores Garden Art Irises Xeriscape Echinacea
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4susiesjoy
Nov 27, 2013 8:43 PM CST
The nice thing about the Kale is that it just gets prettier with the cold and can handle probably any cold you get there.

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