Another leafy green to add to your salad or cooked down like spinach, Collards are a staple food of the south. They produce large, broad leaves and are a great fall or early spring addition to your vegetable garden.
Prepare the planting site by tilling down 6-12” to loosen any compacted soil. Incorporate 2-4” of compost or manure prior to seeding or add a balanced organic fertilizer. Soak seeds for up to 24 hours prior to sowing to increase germination.
Seeds can be started inside in late summer/early fall or in late winter, about 4-6 weeks before the last average frost date. Transplant or sow seeds directly into the garden 2-3 weeks prior to the last expected frost. Collards are frost tolerant, and can even taste better in cooler weather, but may not survive the winter in areas with heavy freezes. Collards also enjoy warmer weather, but don't do as well in temperatures above 90oF. Seeds can easily be scattered and gently pressed into the soil, or can be individually planted 1/2” deep every 2-3”. Once the seedlings are about 2-4” tall, thin to 4-8” apart. Thinned out plants can be eaten. Side dress with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer midway through growth.
Water with 1” of water each week, keeping the moisture even. Laying a 2- to 3-inch layer of hardwood mulch will aid in water retention and regulate soil temperatures.
Collards can be harvested as microgreens (5-7" plants), or wait to harvest the mature outer leaves. Collards can get very large, so do not anticipate harvesting a whole plant, and instead cut from the bottom and work your way up to younger leaves. Harvests should be done before the weather gets too hot and the plant bolts or a heavy frost kills the plant.