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Traditionally a "mess" of collards is cooked with fatback or ham hock and often combined with other greens like mustards. Sometimes it is the green in Hoppin' John, a delicious Southern delicacy with greens, rice, and black-eyed peas, traditionally served on New Year's Day for good luck. It is a cool weather leafy plant that tastes sweeter after a frost. For storage, young collard leaves can be blanched in boiling water, cooled and frozen.
Nutrients: Dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and K, calcium, potassium and folate.
Collards are a frost tolerant green that prefers full sun, although they will tolerate light shade. Plant collards in fertile, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter.
Collard seed can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring. Transplant seedlings outdoors when plants are about 6 wk old or have 3-4 true leaves. For a fall crop, direct seed in mid-late summer. Seeds germinate at soil temps as low as 40˚ F, with ideal temperatures being 50-80˚ F.
Sow seeds ¼-1/2" deep and 1-2” apart in rows 18” apart. Seeds will sprout in 5-17 days. Thin seedlings so that mature plants are 8-12" apart.
Collard greens are ready to harvest in approximately 60 days after planting. To harvest, cut the entire plant or for multiple harvests, keep cutting starting with the lowest, most mature leaves first.
Like most members of the Brassica family, Collard flowers are perfect but self-infertile so cross-plant pollination of the same varieties should be encouraged. Be aware of other Brassica oleracea that may be flowering at the same time. Leave seed pods on the plant to mature for as long as possible, being careful during harvest as the pods will shatter easily when dry. Clean seeds from chaff and store.