Tips On How To Grow Collard Greens

Tips On How To Grow Collard Greens

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Growing collard greens is a southern tradition. The greens are included in the traditional New Year’s meal in many areas of the South and are a great source of vitamins C and Beta Carotene, as well as fiber. Learning how to grow collard greens provides an abundant supply of this dark-green, leafy vegetable at other times of the year.

When to Plant Collard Greens

Collard greens are a cool season vegetable and are often planted in late summer to early autumn for winter harvest in the south. In more northern areas, collards may be planted a little earlier for fall or winter harvest.

Collards are frost tolerant, so growing collard greens in USDA growing zones 6 and below is an ideal late season crop. Frost actually improves the flavor of collard greens. Collard greens planting may also be done in early spring for a summer harvest, but adequate moisture is necessary for collards greens growing successfully in summer heat. A member of the cabbage family, collard greens growing in the heat may bolt.

How to Grow Collard Greens

The best collard greens growing environment is one with moist, fertile soil. The area chosen for collard greens planting should be in full sun. Plant seeds in rows at least 3 feet (.9 m.) apart, as growing collard greens get large and need room to grow. Thin seedlings to 18 inches (46 cm.) apart for adequate room in the rows. Include the thinned seedlings in salads or coleslaw for a tasty addition to these dishes.

Harvest collard greens growing in summer before bolting can occur. While 60 to 75 days is an average harvest time for growing collard greens to reach maturity, the leaves can be picked at any time they are of edible size from the bottom of the large, inedible stalks. Knowing when to plant collard greens leads to the most productive crop.

Pests of growing collard greens are similar to those of other members of the cabbage family. Aphids may congregate on new succulent growth and cabbage loopers may eat holes in the leaves. If aphids are spotted, keep an eye on the underside of the leaves of collard greens. Learn how to control pests on collard greens to prevent damage to your crop.

Whatever your location, get some collard greens growing in the vegetable garden this year. If planted at the right time, growing collard greens will be an easy and worthwhile gardening experience.

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Collard greens grow readily from seed. For a spring crop, sowing seeds indoors six to eight weeks prior to the last average spring frost date or direct seed in the garden three weeks prior to the last frost. Fall crops require starting eight to 12 weeks prior to the first average fall frost date whether sown outdoors or in.

Collards have a wide germination temperature range, from 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, notes Cornell University. If kept evenly moist within this temperature range, seeds will sprout within four to seven days. Two to three seeds sown 1/4- to1/2-inch deep in a single 4-inch pot will ensure even spacing, notes the University of Illinois Extension. Thin to one seedling when the first set of true leaves appear.

When to plant collard greens.

i plan on growing collard greens this season. when is the best time to start them from seed. i live in southern california in the high desert. how about okra as well?

Collards are best as a fall/winter vegetable. Flavor does really develop until the plants are hit with light freezes. Okra is a hot weather vegetable that needs temps above 80 degrees.

I would plant my colards immediately. They like the cool weather . Normally we plant our greens in Sept. but Calif. has nice weather. As for the Okra, it is diffinitely a hot weather crop & needs to be planted in May or june.

My greens are all laying down. I think they froze. Its been 22 degrees here in Texas. Someone says its good for them to get a freeze. You didn't say they could also die.

Uh, generally the cole crops like cabbages can take it down to around 35 and above. I've had my collards out as low as 32 overnight and they love it around 38-45. Mustards are more tender than collards so my cutoff for them is around 45-40 degrees.

The operative is "how LONG" the cole crops remain out in those sustained temperatures:
►A couple hours below 30 degrees overnight, no problem.
►More than a couple hours below 30 degrees, throw a sheet over them
►Sustained temps below 30 degrees for more than a couple back to back days, no problem with some protective covering (water the leaves down before covering, and make sure the cover doesn't touch the leaves or they'll burn when they touch).
►More than a couple days below freezing for an extended period of time (say more than 4 solid days with no break in the freeze from the warming sun), and I'D freeze too.

This winter has been as low as 10 degrees with consistent temps in the low 20's. Collards are still trucking along altho most of them have been harvested. They do freeze and look very droopy, but when it warms up a bit, they perk up and go again. As long as the ground does not freeze to any depth, they will be fine. Broccoli survived but is not robust. Surprising was the Japanese mustard spinach, it showed few ill effects.

That explains a lot *g*. I have a little patch of broccoli, kohlrabi and a few romaine type lettuce(s), which I'd thought would be ready long ago. The early/severe (for us) cold Farmerdill mentions seemed to put a halt to their growth, but because there was no need to pull them out, I built them a low hoop house type thing, and covered them (sometimes for days) during the worst of it. I was afraid to open them :). When I did, expecting mush, they were in surprisingly good shape, even after 11 degrees. It did get above freezing most days, but they got no sun.
Now they're in the "open". and seem to be fine, even growing a bit. The lettuce had some withered leaves, and one broccoli is done for. Interesting :)

I have little chard plants finally starting to grow, they are maybe 2 inches high, cute little buggers, its been so sunny out I am hoping they can handle the heat. I hope everyone everywhere else gets a nice thaw soon!

My greens including chard, kale, collards, oriental greens and turnips are all of a sudden growing a couple of inches a week. Everything was planted in late October or early November. Our turning point was finally getting some blessed rain. It is still in the 30s many nights here and we have had a lot of freezes but nothing has died but some lettuce.
I am most impressed by the baby bok choy. They are delicious, pretty and seemingly indestructible. My new favorite.

Oh, good! I bought some seeds to plant, and I've been waffling. You have convinced me:).
We've been very cold (for SC), but my November brocolli finally has some tiny heads peeking out from their leaves.
Of course, it's supposed to snow tonight, so I have to decide to cover, or not to cover. They SAY very light, but the weather accuracy has been less than stellar this year :(

Are you in the Atlanta, Ga. growing zone? I have a cousin who's joining Dave's and trying to get a good planting schedule down for her spring? garden. She says she plants tomatoes in May (when I'll be harvesting). She has successfully grown humongous watermelons and cantaloupes, so she's not a total newbie.

However, she's interested in container gardening. She does have a large property available for some planting, too.

Any tips on when she should start her seedlings would be much appreciated.

I am about 150 miles south and east of the Atlanta metro area. I start tomatoes, eggplants ,peppers around March 1 for tramsplant around the middle of April. Last frost date April 15. Spring brassicas started in cold frame around the first of February for transplant in mid March. Maybe a few days later in the suburbs north of Atlanta, but not wildly different.

Spacing Collards When Planting a Square Foot Garden

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Cultivated for thousands of years across the globe yet still a common vegetable today, collard greens (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) can take up quite a bit of space in the garden. According to the square foot gardening method, where thinning is eliminated by setting out vegetable seeds or transplants at their final, optimum distances from one another, collards must be spaced at one plant per square foot of garden. They can grow rather tall and wide, up to 4 feet by 2 feet.

Measure out 12-inch intervals along the edges of a prepared garden bed, inserting a wooden dowel rod into the ground at each mark around the perimeter of the garden. Rods should be placed so they directly face one another across the length and width of the bed.

Tie one end of a length of string to each dowel rod, and then stretch the string across the garden bed to the dowel rod exactly opposite the first rod. Tie off the end of the string, and repeat for each dowel rod down the length and width of the garden. The result will be a grid marked off in 12-inch square spaces.

Determine how many collard plants to set out. A standard recommendation is two to three collard plants per person in the household.

Position one seed or young collard transplant in the center of one square to be planted.

Plant collard seed by pushing it into the top ¼ to ½ inch of soil and then covering it lightly.

Plant a collard seedling transplant by first digging a hole with a trowel to roughly the size of the transplant’s root ball.

Remove the seedling gently from its growing container, keeping root disturbance to a minimum. Insert the seedling into the prepared hole and press it firmly into the ground. Cover the top of the seedling’s root ball with a ¼-inch layer of garden soil. Do not heap soil around the seedling’s stem.

Water the freshly planted seeds or seedlings after planting. Seeds can take four to 14 days to germinate, and the first harvestable leaves are usually ready by 40 days after germination. Collards take between 55 and 85 days to reach full maturity, depending on variety.

Piedmont Area

The Piedmont area of Virginia encompasses central sections of the state. Average temperatures are cooler for slightly longer periods than the Tidewater area. This area of the state experiences approximately 182 frost-free days with killing frosts ending between April 20 and April 30. Gardeners can start plants two to three weeks early indoors, or wait to sow seeds directly into the garden after the cold weather leaves the region.

  • Killing frosts generally leave the area between April 10 and April 21.
  • Gardeners can start plants two to three weeks early indoors, or wait to sow seeds directly into the garden after the cold weather leaves the region.

Growing Collard Greens: How And When To Plant Collard Greens - garden

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:

Collard - There are few varieties of collards to choose from. Many garden stores and seed catalogs do not carry them. Find 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 your area.

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 mid-summer planting.

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 recipes.

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 nutrients.

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.

Soil Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable

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.

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 frost.

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