Collard Greens – Deep, Dark Green and Rich in Nutrients
Collard greens are a traditional southern and western side dish. They are a deep, dark green color. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. Some cooks remove the tough, white spine and chop the greens before cooking. Others enjoy the crunch of the long spine as a contrast to the smooth texture of the cooked greens. Collards are among the simplest to grow. Many gardeners use collard greens to help enrich the soil when they rotate their crops.
How to Grow Collard Greens
When you visit farms in the south, you’ll immediately see the long rows of tall collard green plants. Collard greens have thick roots that hold tight to the soil. There’s nothing flimsy about collard greens. This may be the reason they are such hardy plants to grow. They thrive in just about any type of soil; although, they most prefer a loam rich soil. Test soil before planting collard greens. Soil should be in the pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Collards also thrive in sandy soil that’s well-drained. They also need full sun for more than six hours. Nitrogen fertilizer added to the soil before planting will insure the classic deep green color and big, leafy plants. Lime is another nutrient that aids in the growth of these greens.
Collard greens are grown from seeds directly planted into the soil. They are also grown in cold frames and hot houses and transplanted when they reach at least two inches in height. Collard greens grow as large as eighteen inches tall. Plant them at least one-half to one inch deep in soil. Create rows that are spaced three feet apart. Collard greens need room to grow due to the tall, profuse leaves a single plant produces. Because of the dense, thick leaves, these plants need generous amounts of water to keep them from drying.
Harvest Young, Tender Collard Greens
Collard greens tend to grow tough as they mature. It’s best to harvest collard greens when they are young and tender. They are more palatable and digestible at this stage of growth. Collard greens should be cut before they become too tough. To keep plants producing leaves, cut the youngest leaves from a single plant. This allows new shoots to appear and provides a longer harvest of the crop.
Protect Collard Greens From Disease and Pests
Like many garden crops, it’s important to avoid insect infestation. In particular, collards are susceptible to Harlequin bugs and worms. Use insect repellent dust to control insect infestation. One way to avoid disease is to purchase seeds from the nursery or garden center that are disease-resistant . Collards are often plagued by black rot which originates in seeds. Check all seed labels prior to purchase to insure they are disease-resistant.
Enjoy Collard Greens Fresh from the Garden
There’s nothing as flavorful as collard greens picked fresh from the garden. In southern cooking, collards are cooked until tender with bits of diced ham.