From HOMEGROWNer Andrew Odom:
To borrow a line(s) from Midnight Oil, "The time has come / A fact's a fact / It belongs to them/ Let's give it back"
And so with winter on the wing, we have realized the soil is not really
ours and we have given it back to the earth for a few more months. What
am I talking about? Well, this morning I harvested the last of the Georgia Southern Creole Collards
and pulled the roots. I have to say though. It was a very good season for the leafy greens.
As a member of the cabbage family, Collards plants are much less known.
As far as I understand, Collards are closely related to Kale. They are a
strong flavored, open leafed cabbage that are clipped when leafy as
they don't form a large, round head, at all.
I found out though that outside the deep South they aren't all that
popular. The only reason I can imagine is because of the taste. Collards
have a strong taste, and can sometime be quite bitter if allowed to
grow in warmer weather.
Sowing Collard Seeds:
Many areas (including our zone) can grow a spring and a fall crop. All
members of the cabbage family can withstand frosts and freezes and
collards are no different. Plan to place your seeds or seedlings in your
garden as one of the first crops. They take up quite a bit of room as
the leaves shoot up and out and if you time your crop right, you will
have ONLY a couple weeks in the middle of summers' heat and humidity
when you are not growing Collards. This is actually good, as these
plants do not like high heat and dry conditions. In fact we think of
them as cool to cold crops actually.
If you plant early in the year, consider using a raised row or bed to allow better drainage during early spring rains.
We chose to sew our seeds outdoors in a raised bed setting that had been
home to onions back in the spring and early summer. The soil in said
bed was adequately composted with chicken manure and the levels were as
perfect as we could ask for. We put our collard seeds in rows forming a
seedbed of sorts. This allows for better control of the spacing of your
seedlings. The plant seeds were pushed by thumb about 1/2 inch deep. We
watered them only until we saw shoots. Then we allowed the morning dew
and natural rain to be the only irrigation.
About 6 weeks into our crop we had to thin out the plants so they could
grow well and not choke each other out. The final spacing ended up being
about 18 to 24 inches apart, in rows three feet apart. NOTE:
The outer leaves of a healthy plant will spread and cover a lot of space.
Days to Maturity:
Collard greens are normally harvested in 70 - 80 days. We allowed our
most recent crop to grow until the first frost. That was approximately
118 days from planting to harvesting. At that point we cut them with
sharp, garden shears and then allowed the plants to continue growing for
a 2nd, 3rd, and, YES, 4th harvesting. It really was unbelievable to us.
Insects and Pests:
While we had absolutely no problems this season, 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