Collards-QR - Manning's Greenhouse

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The Collards

Collards, scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. viridis, have a rich history deeply intertwined with Southern cuisine and agricultural traditions. Originating in the eastern Mediterranean region, collards were brought to the United States by African slaves during the colonial period, where they flourished particularly in the South due to their resilience in hot and humid climates. This leafy green vegetable belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Collards are characterized by their large, dark green, and somewhat bitter leaves, which become sweeter after exposure to frost.
Scientific Name - Brassica oleracea var. viridis

Cultivating collards requires attention to specific practices to ensure optimal growth and yield. Here are some key planting and gardening practices for collards:
  • Choose a location with full sun exposure and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Collards thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

  • Collards are cool-season crops, so plant them in early spring for a summer harvest or in late summer for a fall harvest. In warmer climates, they can also be planted in early fall for a winter harvest.

  • Start collards indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant seedlings outdoors once they have developed a few true leaves, spacing them 18-24 inches apart in rows.

  • Collards require consistent moisture, so water deeply and regularly, especially during dry periods. Avoid overhead watering to prevent disease.

  • Apply a balanced fertilizer before planting and side-dress with nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the growing season to encourage leafy growth.

  • Keep the area around collards weed-free to minimize competition for nutrients and water.

  • Monitor for common pests such as aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. Use organic or chemical control methods as needed. Rotate crops to prevent disease buildup in the soil.

  • Begin harvesting outer leaves when they reach a desirable size, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. Collards can be harvested throughout the growing season, but they are sweetest after exposure to frost.

By following these planting and gardening practices, growers can ensure a bountiful harvest of nutritious and delicious collard greens, a staple in many culinary traditions.
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