How to Grow Southern Giant Collard Greens
The flavor of this traditional Southern potherb is improved by frost. Very cold hardy (harvest can continue right through snow), collards are also among the most heat tolerant of cole crops.
Seeds or Seedlings
4 to 7 days, 40F to 85F
12" to 18" apart
DAYS OF HARVEST
55 to 60
Direct seed about three months before expected fall frost. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep, 1 inch apart in rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Thin to 12- to 18-inch spacings. Eat or transplant thinnings.
For spring crops, start plants inside about 8 weeks before the last frost, and transplant when they are about 6 weeks old. Set transplants 12 inches apart, rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
Plant direct-seeded crops 1/2 inch deep and 3 inches apart 3 weeks before last frost. Thin to 12 to 18 inches apart.
Mulch overwintering plants.
Collards don't seem to be as troubled by pests as most other cole crops. Use floating row covers to help protect from early insect infestations.
To help reduce disease, do not plant collards or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.
All green parts of the plant are edible and may be harvested at any time during the growing season. Plants grown 6 inches apart can be cut at ground level when they reach 6 to 10 inches in height. As an alternative method of harvesting, you can pick the large leaves when the plants are 10 to 12 inches high.
This harvesting method allows the younger leaves to develop for later use. Some gardeners prefer the young, tender leaves and cut the inner rosette of young growth. This "loose head" may be blanched by tying the outer leaves together to keep out the sun. Frost improves the flavor in the fall
If you want to save the seeds from your collard greens, just leave some of the flowering plants alone to form seed pods. You'll be able to identify them easily once they form because they look almost like green beans. In fact, some people even eat them. The pods can be left to dry right on the plant in the same way you would leave bean pods to dry. Once dry, store them in a paper bag until you plant them. Cutting off the stem of the plant while it's blooming and planting it won't work. Collard greens are best grown from seed or by purchasing seedlings inexpensively from a nursery.
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