Collard Greens: A Southern Delicacy

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on January 26, 2011

Many Southerners consider collard greens a delicacy.  My Daddy’s family ate them and he enjoys them.  My mother’s family did not, and Mom never fixed greens, except spinach, when I was growing up.  I can take them or leave them, but I can certainly grow them.

If you want to grow your own collard greens, you can start with seed in either the early spring or the fall.  Some people start the plants inside and then transplant them, but most people direct seed in the garden about six weeks before the last frost date.  They are planted at the same time as beets, turnips, radishes, and the like.

Before you plant the seed, fertilize the area with about 8 pints of a good fertilizer per 100 foot row.  If you live in my area, you put nitrogen down.  If you live some where that does not have a lot of phosphorus or potassium in the soil, you put down 10-10-10 fertilizer.  About 4 weeks after the seed comes up, spread one pint of nitrogen along the side of your row, and repeat that in about three weeks.

Seeds should be planted 1/2 to 3/4 inches deep.  Do not get them deeper than that or they will not survive.  Water them in and water frequently, as collards take a lot of water.  The soil should be moist but not squishy.

You can plant collards close together and form a carpet of greens, then trim the leaves as you want them.  You can also space them 12-18 inches apart and pull the whole plant when you are ready for it.  Collards are cold hardy and if planted in the fall garden can last most of the winter.  In fact, in areas where it is not too cold, you can have them all winter and into the spring, long enough for the new crop to come in.

Collards are high in vitamins and can be substituted for spinach in the diet.  Care should be given to keep animals out of the garden and make sure any manure used on the garden is completely composted.  Otherwise, you may get E. coli contamination and that can be deadly.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Toronto Landscaper January 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Hi, I,m glad I found this post. I’m a landscaper but have never grown a vegetable garden of my own. Do you think Collard Greens would grow alright in Toronto? I’m selecting what plants to grow now.


Stephanie Suesan Smith January 27, 2011 at 8:33 am

They will probably grow but not survive the winter.


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