Collards are a cool-weather crop. Collard is a kind of kale and a primitive member of the cabbage family.
Collards are a hardy biennial grown as an annual. Collards grow 2 to 3 feet tall (.6-.9m) with rosettes of large, non-heading, waxy leaves growing on sturdy stems.
Collards Quick Growing Tips
- Start seed indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Sow seed outdoors when the soil can be worked in spring.
- Place transplants in the garden when they are 3 to 4 inches tall (7-10cm) as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- In mild-winter regions, start seed in late summer for a winter or spring harvest.
- Yield: Plant 2 to 3 collard plants per household member.
Where to Plant Collards
- Grow collards in full sun.
- Collards prefer organically rich well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
- Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting especially where the soil is sandy.
Collards Planting Time
- Collards are a cool-weather crop and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F (-6.7°C).
- Collards are more tolerant of heat than cabbage.
- Collards are usually grown from transplants.
- Start seed indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring. Sow seed outdoors when the soil can be worked in spring.
- Place transplants in the garden when they are 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) tall as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- In most regions, collards can be planted in early spring and again in late summer for fall or winter harvest.
- In late summer, directly sow seeds in the garden. In mild-winter regions, start seed in late summer for a winter or spring harvest.
Planting and Spacing Collards
- Sow seed 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and 3 inches (7.6cm) apart.
- Thin collards to 12 inches (30cm) apart when seedlings are big enough to lift by their true leaves.
- Space rows 24 inches (61cm) apart.
- Transplant thinned seedlings to another part of the garden when plants have 4 or 5 true leaves.
- Transplants that are leggy or have crooked stems should be set deeply up to their first leaves so that they won’t grow to be top-heavy.
- Plants that grow top-heavy may need staking.
More tips at: Collard Seed Starting Tips.
Collards Companion Plants
- Plant collards with tomatoes, southern peas, and peppers.
- Do not plant with celery, potatoes, or yams.
Container Growing Collards
- Collards can be grown in containers.
- A single plant can be grown in a 10-inch (25cm) pot.
- In larger containers set collards on 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) centers.
Water and Feeding Collards
- Water collards regularly so that leaves do not grow tough. Underwatering may cause collards to become stringy.
- Add aged compost to the planting bed before planting and side-dress plants with compost at midseason.
- Aged manure can be added to planting beds in the autumn before planting.
- Mulch around collards to keep the soil moist.
Collards Pests and Diseases
- Collards may be attacked by cabbage family pests: cutworms, cabbage loopers (preceded by small yellow and white moths), and imported cabbage worms.
- Handpick these pests or spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Collards have no serious disease problems.
- Collards are ready for harvest 85 to 95 days from seeding and 75 to 85 days from transplanting.
- Pick or cut leaves on a cut-and-come-again schedule as soon as plants reach12 inches tall.
- Harvest young, tender leaves from the bottom up; cut leaves before they get old and tough.
- Frost will cause some of the carbohydrates in the plants to turn to sugar and can make leaves sweeter tasting.
- Complete the harvest before the first hard freeze.
Also see: How to Harvest and Store Collards.
Storing and Preserving Collards
- Collards can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or in a cold moist place for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Collards can be frozen, canned, or dried.
Collard Varieties to Grow
- Varieties. ‘Blue Max’ (68 days); ‘Champion’ (60-80 days); ‘Georgia’ (70-80 days); ‘Top Bunch’ (67 days); ‘Vates’ (55-80 days).
- Common name. Collards
- Botanical name. Brassica oleracea acephala
- Origin. Europe