How to Grow Collard, or Collard Greens
As a member of the cabbage family, Collards plants are far less known. Collard
greens are closely related to Kale. They are strong
flavored, open leafed cabbage. They do not form a large, round head.
Despite being easier to grow than regular cabbage, why isn't it popular?
The answer is taste. Collard greens have a strong taste, and can be quite
bitter, especially in the warmer weather.
Varieties of Collard Plants:
Sowing Collard Seeds:
Many areas can grow a spring and a fall crop of collards. All members of
the cabbage family can withstand frosts and freezes. Plan to place your seeds
or seedlings in your garden as one of the first crops. If you time your crop
right, you will have a couple weeks in the middle of summers' heat and humidity
when you are not growing Collards or Kale. This is actually good, as these
plants do not like high heat and dry conditions.
TIP: If you plant early in the year, consider using a raised row or
bed to allow better drainage during early spring rains.
About Raised Beds
Indoors: Sow seeds for a spring crop indoors four to six weeks before
planting outdoors. Plan to plant your seedlings outdoors very early in the
season. Collards can be planted outdoors, before the last frost date for
Plant seeds in containers 1/2 inch deep, in sterile starting mix. Water
thoroughly once, then lightly after the seeds have sprouted. Provide plenty
of sunlight or artificial grow lights so the plants do not become spindly.
Boost your plants health with a light application of liquid fertilizer once
or twice during this period.
Outdoors: Collard seeds can be direct sowed into the row, or seeded
in a separate area and transplanted to the row after a few weeks. We recommend
planting them together in a seedbed, and transplanting the seedlings. This
allows for better control of the spacing of your seedlings. This is a common
method for the second planting. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep. Water well and
make sure to keep the top level of soil moist, especially during the drier
Whether direct seeding or transplanting, make the final spacing 18 to 24
inches apart, in rows three feet apart. The outer leaves of a healthy plant
will spread and cover a lot of space.
Tip: For direct seeding, prepare the soil first. Then, place tomato
cages (to mark your planting) 18 to 24 inches apart. Sow several seeds
inside the ring of the cage. Thin to two plants a week after germination,
and to one plant after a couple of weeks. This avoids transplant shock, and
assures proper spacing, for maximum growth. Remove the tomato cages after
the seedlings have begun to grow.
How to Grow Collard Plants:
Growing Collard greens is easy.
Because Collards do not form heads, it is easier to grow than cabbage. The
young leaves can be harvested as the plant grows for salads, soups and other
Collard plants prefer full sunlight. Collards will grow in average and poorer
soils. But like any plant, they respond favorably to richer soil high in
Note: Make sure to provide plenty of nitrogen for a greener crop.
Keep the soil moist and well draining, but not wet. Dry conditions lead to
bitter vegetables in all of the vegetable world. Collards are no exception.
Days to Maturity:
Collard greens are normally harvested in 70 - 80 days. The tender young leaves
can be harvested as soon as they reach a size that is easy for picking.
Insects and Pests:
All members of the cabbage family are extremely susceptible to insects. Collards
are no exception. Among the most common are aphids, and cabbage loopers.
Cabbage loopers the larva stage of a moth. Those white moths that visit your
garden and yard are the culprits. Effective treatment in the home garden
is to place a screen over the plant so the moth can not lay her eggs.
Commercial growers apply insecticides to control them. Aphids are controlled
by frequent spraying. Organic controls in the form of soap or garlic sprays
are also effective.
Collards are fairly resistant to most diseases.
Collards, as previously mentioned, are among the hardiest of annuals. The
plants can withstand temperatures into the upper 20's. You know you have
a hardy plant when you go out to the garden in December, brush a little snow
away, and harvest some vegetables.
Did you Know? For all members of the cabbage family, flavor is better
in cool weather. Most growers will attest that the flavor is best after a
on growing collards
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