Growing Collard Greens in Your Yard

Growing Collard Greens in Your Yard

Collard GreensPlanting Collard greens in your vegetable garden makes a wonderful addition. Collards are rich in vitamins and minerals, can be successfully grown in many zones, are frost-tolerant, easy to grow, and offer an abundance of leaves to harvest all season long. Collard greens are grown for their large, deep green edible leaves that have a slightly bitter taste to them. They are very popular in the south and used frequently in southern cooking.

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Collard greens are in the cabbage family and are a cool-season vegetable, which means they can be successfully grown in northern states and are frost-resistant. You can harvest collard greens well into the fall and early winter and often their taste improves as the weather cools.

Collards should be planted in the early spring to ensure a summer harvest and once more in midsummer for a late fall/early winter harvest.  Plant the seeds about 1/4-1/2 inches into the soil, and thin the seedlings when they sprout to about 6 inches apart. You will eventually need about 18” between plants. You can eat the leaves of the plants you remove to increase space. After planting, it will take between 60-75 days for collards to reach maturity. Collards need to be kept adequately moist during summer heat and droughts, and checked for disease or insect damage.

Growing Collard Greens in Your Yard

Collard greens can be susceptible to aphids. Check for them on the underside of the leaves.  Aphids can be gotten rid  of by spraying the plant with soapy water or using an insecticide if that is not effective. They are also vulnerable to cabbageworms.  There are three species that attack and damage collards: imported cabbageworms, cabbage loopers and diamond back moth worms.  The damage is done during the larval or worm stage by eating holes in the leaves and head. The worms can be tricky to see as they blend in well with the color of the collard leaves.  Adult moths or butterflies do not cause any damage but simply lay their eggs on the leaves. Cabbage worms can be very destructive and need to be controlled, either by manual removal if the amount if small, or with an insecticide if the numbers are large.

All parts of the collard plant can be eaten. Leaves should be harvested before they reach their maximum size for best taste. You can cut the mature plants  (at least 6-10 inches in height) to the ground when harvesting, or simply harvest the outer part of the leaves. Some people prefer the smaller, younger leaves and harvest the inner part of the plant and allow the plant to continue to mature. Collards can be harvested at any time during the growing season. The leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days. There are many delicious recipes available for using collard greens, including  lots of southern and soul food.

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