Country Gardens - - Old Fashioned Favorites -

In the South, col­lards are usu­ally planted in very early spring or, even bet­ter, in late sum­mer for har­vest­ing through the fall and win­ter. How­ever, they can be grown in any re­gion. They’re hardy to Zone 6, and a frost ac­tu­ally makes them sweeter. Col­lards also tol­er­ate heat, but sum­mer col­lards are not as ten­der as those grown in cooler tem­per­a­tures.

• COL­LARDS ARE EASY TO GROW, AND THEY’RE GOOD FOR YOU: They are high in Vi­ta­min A and C, cal­cium, and healthy an­tiox­i­dants.

Grow them from seed or from trans­plants (avail­able at gar­den cen­ters in early spring or late sum­mer).

• PLANT COL­LARDS IN FULL SUN, IN WELL-DRAINED SOIL. Sow seeds about ¼ inch deep, firm the soil over the seeds, and wa­ter well. Thin seedlings to about 12–18 inches apart. Tiny leaves, snipped off at soil level, are de­li­cious in sal­ads.

• COL­LARDS ARE NON HEAD­ING GREENS. Some va­ri­eties form a pretty, loose head in the cen­ter but also pro­duce many ed­i­ble leaves along their stems. Most va­ri­eties pro­duce full-size leaves (12 inches or larger) af­ter 60–75 days on plants that grow up to about 3 feet tall. To har­vest, trim off leaves near the stem.

In Vir­ginia, Ira Wal­lace plants col­lards al­most any time, but she avoids high sum­mer. “In July, ev­ery bug wants to eat them,” she says, “but in late Au­gust you can start new col­lards and grow them through the fall.” Wal­lace likes to plant col­lards as a suc­ces­sion crop, sow­ing seeds ev­ery few weeks so she al­most al­ways has young col­lards as well as more ma­ture plants.

• HEAVY FROST MAKES COL­LARDS LOOK A LIT­TLE RAGGED. Wal­lace keeps her plants look­ing good and is able to har­vest leaves through the win­ter by pro­tect­ing them un­der row cov­ers. Col­lards grown un­der row cov­ers also bounce back with fresh growth in the spring, pro­duc­ing new leaves be­fore the rest of the spring gar­den re­ally has time to be­come es­tab­lished. Row cov­ers pro­tect col­lards from cab­bage worms, which can be a prob­lem in warm weather. You’re not likely to have a prob­lem with them if you grow your col­lards when it’s cool.

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