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Collards and Edible Flowers

Collards and Edible Flowers

By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Container Combos: Vegetables & Flowers
Photographs by Pamela Crawford

We found this tin container in the kitchen department of a large store. It made an attractive choice for this cool-season combo.

The flowers of the mums are edible (provided they have not been sprayed with chemicals that are not allowed on food by the FDA, which happens with some commercial growers). Use their petals on salads to add a strong taste and a little decoration. Mums bloom for a very short period, only a few weeks.

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Ornamental kale, although not edible, is one of the most useful cold weather ornamentals. It lasted in my trial gardens until the temperatures dipped into the low 20’s. It lives for at least six months. Most cool-season ornamentals don’t last anywhere near that long. Although the leaves are edible, they don’t taste very good and are more frequently used as a garnish.

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Mums: 2 plants from 5” pots.

Collards: 2 plants from 5” pots.

Ornamental kale: 2 plants from 5” pots.

Light: Light shade (four to five hours of sun per day) to full sun.

Season: Collards are tolerant to moderate heat and cold, from 22 to 80 degrees F. Ornamental kale prefers temperatures from 22 to 75 degrees and doesn’t develop nice color until the cold arrives. Mums bloom for a very short time period in fall in most parts of the U.S.

Lifespan: Two to four months in this container, but the mums only bloom for about three weeks.

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Care: Fertilize on planting day with a slow-release mix. Repeat if the leaves look yellowish or washed-out, although the fertilizer should last from six to nine months. The mums look better if you trim off the flowers after they stop blooming.

Water: Water thoroughly if the plants show signs of wilt or the soil feels dry when you push your fingertip into the potting mix. I watered this one every three days (after it was about a month old) and less in cold weather.

Troubleshooting: No problems at all.

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Planting Plan: Easy. Plant the collards along the back of the pot, centered. Plant the mums and kale as shown in the photo.

Container: Tin pot purchased in the kitchen department of a large store. 16”L x 10”W x 8”H. Be sure to drill a hole in the bottom.

Best Time to Pick: Collards can be harvested almost from the moment they have their first leaves until they are quite mature. Pick the mum flowers or kale leaves at any time as well.

This is an excerpt from Pamela Crawford’s book, Easy Container Combos: Vegetables & Flowers, available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

Pamela Crawford, author of 12 gardening books, is considered one of the most accomplished container gardening experts in the country. In addition to designing gardens for over 1500 residences, her work has been featured on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens publications as well as in Southern Living, HGTV Magazine, Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, and in over 300 newspapers. As an expert in her field, she has appeared on the Fine Living Network, GardenSMART, and numerous local tv shows.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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