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Plant of the Month: Collard Greens

Sounds good, right? So how do you grow them?
  • Collards are a hearty vegetable and a great fall crop. In fact, frosts actually improve flavor.
  • For a fall/winter harvest, sow seeds in late summer or early fall, about 10 weeks before the first expected fall frost date. Plant collards in full sun, in well-drained soil high in organic matter with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
  • Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost Keep soil moisture consistent for the sweetest crop; mulch will help to conserve moisture and keep down weeks.
  • You can begin harvesting leaves of collards as soon as they are big enough to use.
  • You can also cut the entire plant when half grown or mature. Or, like mentioned earlier, you can hold out on your fall harvest until cooler weather as frost improves flavor.
Can’t grow collards but still want try them? Here’s some tips for buying them:
  • Look for collard greens that have firm, unwilted leaves that are vividly deep green in color with no signs of yellowing or browning.
  • Leaves that are smaller in size will be more tender and have a milder flavor.
  • They should be displayed in a chilled section in the refrigerator case to prevent them from wilting and becoming bitter.
  • Place collard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible.
  • Store in the refrigerator where they should keep fresh for about three to five days.
Whether you grow collards or buy them, you’ll need to clean and cut your collards before cooking them:
  • A good rinsing is always a must, since this vegetable tends to collect soil on its leaves and stems. You can even soak the collards for a few minutes and then remove the dirty water and rinse again.
  • Collards are tough and you will need to remove them stems from the leaves. Fold each leaf lengthwise at the stem. To make the leaves easier to chop, stack on top of each and then roll a few together.
  • Then chop as thickly or thinly as you prefer.

There are tons of great recipes out there for you to be creative with collard greens from side dishes to salads and soups. Next time you’re at the local farmers market or grocery store, don’t forget to pick up a bunch and try some! Or, growing some in your garden or greenhouse. Don’t have the right climate for ideal harvesting potential? Learn more about our greenhouses!