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Vegetable Garden – Tips on Growing Southern Standard Vates Collard Greens From SeedDays to Maturity: 80
If you don’t live in the South, you might not see Collards or greens very often; they are a leafy, cool-weather vegetable very popular for cooked greens. However, collards grow well throughout the country. A relative of Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kohlrabi, and Kale, this upright, dark green, waxy plant is a little like a Cabbage that doesn’t make a head.
It is one of the most cold-hardy of all vegetables, able to withstand temperatures in the upper teens. In Zone 8 and southward, collards often provide a harvest through the entire winter. You can plant them in spring and fall, although fall-planted collards are favored because the leaves are sweeter when kissed by frost.
USDA Hardiness Zone -First Frost Date- Last Frost Date
Plant in fertile soil because collard greens should grow fast to produce tender leaves. They need fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 to discourage club root disease. To be sure about your soil pH, test the soil with a do-it-yourself kit.
Apply fertilizer and lime according to test recommendations. If you forgo the soil test, work nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure into the ground before planting. Or, apply a timed-release vegetable food such as 14-14-14 according to label directions.
Collard Greens are easy to transplant. Set plants deeply so that about half the stem is buried. A good general spacing is 36 inches apart. After planting, water the transplants well and apply a liquid starter fertilizer such as fish emulsion or 20-20-20 for a boost.
Collard Greens like a nice, even supply of water. Water regularly, applying 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week if it doesn’t rain. You can measure the amount of water with a rain gauge left in the garden. Mulch with compost, finely ground leaves, weed-free hay, or finely ground bark to keep the soil cool and moist and to keep down weeds. Mulching will also help keep the leaves clean.
Harvest leaves when they are up to 10 inches long, dark green, and still young. Old leaves may be tough or stringy. Pick the lower leaves first, working your way up the plant. You can even harvest leaves when frozen in the garden, but be careful because the frozen plant is brittle.
Of course, wash the leaves thoroughly because soil often clings to the undersides. Insects that like collards include cabbage loppers, slugs, imported cabbageworms, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Disease problems include black leg, black rot, club root, and yellows. To prevent diseases from building up in the soil, do not plant collards or other Cole crops in the same spot each year. Rotate with a non-Cole crop for 2 years before returning to the same spot.
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