Collard Green Growing Techniques – A Step by Step Guide:
Growing of Collard greens is as simple as any other cabbage group leaves. Collard greens are a popular recipe of Southern recipes which are just being recognized in other regions too. It is easy to grow these plants and they do very well in cold climatic conditions. You can also choose to grow them in containers or you can also go ahead and plant them directly in the ground. In any of the case, either in containers or ground, they require loose soil and plenty of water and sun. They will get prepared for the harvest in 2 to 3 months.
Preparation of soil for planting Collard greens:
- For the growing of Collard greens, you must have good seedbed or good area in your home garden.
- You will have to select a sunny site which will get a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day. Collard greens will require a plenty amount of light for growing in a good manner. If you would like to proceed with growing Collard greens in containers, you can move them to sunlight in the day time and in that way, you can ensure that they are getting a good amount of sunlight as required.
- Select an area which has well-drained soil and it should not have any muddy spots or water which is pooled. The draining of the soil should not be too much it will become dusty and also bone dry. If you want to test the drainage of your soil, you can do it this way:
- Take a coffee can and remove the top and bottom of it.
- A hole has to be dug at a depth of 4 inches into the soil.
- The can have to be placed in the hole and soil has to be packed around it so that it would be safe in the ground.
- The coffee can have to be filled with water.
- After one hour, you can take a measurement of how much quantity of water has been dropped down in the coffee can.
- If you see that a minimum of 2 inches of water has been escaped in that one hour, then it means that the soil has a good drainage system which would be perfectly suitable for the growth of Collards.
- The next step is to test the pH of the soil. Collard greens would be able to resist if the range of the pH of the soil is in between 6 and 7.5. You can buy a soil pH testing kit. There are two types of soil testing kits like paper strips and digital probes.
- You will have to follow the instructions which are provided on your kit in order to get the accurate details regarding testing the pH of the soil.
- Now it is the turn to loosen the soil. Use a space and dig the soil to a depth of 10 inches. If you see any rocks or sticks, just remove them.
- If you are making use of potting soil, then you will have to just remove it out of the container and make sure that you are breaking up any clumps which are found in the soil.
- Make sure that you are adding a compost layer if your soil has high percentages of sand and clay. Collard greens are the one which would be able to tolerate most of the soil varieties, but the soil in which they have been planted need to have a very good amount of organic matter in them. If you find that your soil has a high amount of sand and clay, once it becomes loose, the compost has to be dumped on top until you see a layer which has a thickness of 4 inches. Make use of your spade to add some compost to the first soil layer. If you do not have any compost, you can also make use of manure in place of that.
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Plantation of Collard greens:
- You will have to wait till the end of the summer or till the start of autumn for the plantation of Collard greens. Collard greens are the crops which would love to grow in cold climatic conditions. If you plant them at the end of summer or at the start of autumn, they would be able to beat the heat and also show good growth.
- When the temperature of the soil will be 8°C, it would be sufficiently warm for the Collards and they sprout well.
- Rows have to be dug in the soil if you are planning to plant the Collards in the ground. Make use of space to take some amount of dirt in long lines and arrange it on the sides. Rows have to be created in such a way that there is a distance of at least 25 to 35 inches in between them.
- The Collard green seeds have to be planted just below the soil surface. Irrespective of your plan to plant them in containers or ground, the seeds have to be placed at a depth of ¼ inch below the soil surface. As an alternative, the seeds have to be sprinkled on the soil and then you will have to cover them in a light manner.
- The seeds can be scattered in a simple manner, as you have to take them out later to protect the plants which are healthy.
- The seeds have to be germinated in about 1 week to 10 days.
- The seedlings have to be thinned when they are at a height of a maximum 10 inches. If you have gone with the plantation of plenty of seeds, there is a very good chance that most of them will sprout. The small ones or the weakest ones have to be pulled out and the healthy and the strongest ones have to be left.
- If the plantation of the seeds took place in the ground, the seedlings have to be thinned until the distance between them is at least 20 to 25 inches from each other.
- The seedlings which you have pulled out have to be saved and later, you will need to add them to your dishes in order to have a tasty meal.
- The seedlings which are present in the containers have to be transplanted to the ground and this can be done if you wish. After the seedlings have raised to a length of several inches, then you can remove the complete root ball from the container and you can go with the plantation of it in a hole in the ground which is somewhat larger. The rest of the space has to be filled with soil. The seedlings have to be watered in a good manner when your process is done.
- Collard greens are the ones which will grow very well in containers. So there is no requirement for transplantation if you do not want to.
- Your plants have to be fertilized. For this, you will have to spread a cup of fertilizer to the plants’ side for every 25-30 feet which you have planted in a complete row, once they reach a height of several inches. Now, the soil has to be raked in a light manner in order to combine the fertilizer in the soil and then you can start watering the plants.
- Select the best fertilizer for Collard greens which has a high content of nitrogen. Collard greens will require nitrogen for the production of leaves which are healthy.
- If you have started the plantation of Collard greens in containers, you can make use of about 1 tablespoon of fertilizer for one plant.
- You will have to keep monitoring your Collard green plants. If you see that the leaves of the Collard green plants start to look pale rather than dark green, then you can fertilize them again in about 1 to 1 ½ month.
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Care and maintenance of your Collard green plants:
- Your plants have to be watered well. The Collard greens have to be kept in the soil which is moist. It should be a little damp, but it should not be so wet that it soaks. Based on the location you reside in, the watering of the plants on a daily basis can take place.
- If you see that the water is pooling up the soil, then it means that you are watering them too much.
- You will have to provide your Collard greens with about 1 to 1 ½ inches of water every week, until and unless there is rain in your locality which reaches its requirements.
- You can track the rainfall by making use of a rain gauge and setting up in your garden.
- If you are living in a locality in which the climate is dry, you can go ahead and add mulch to the soil so that it will restore its moisture.
- Make sure that you are monitoring the pests and keeping them away. For this, you will have to sprinkle some amount of diatomaceous earth on the ground closer to your plants for stopping the slugs. You can make use of an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis by adding it so that you can get rid of caterpillars.
- These materials can be found in any of the stores which supply garden materials.
- Slugs are the creatures which have soft bodies and are also slimy. These appear similar to snails but they do not have shells. They will consume the leaves of the Collard greens.
- Caterpillars are the ones which will come in several colors and size. The caterpillars which will attack the Collard greens will be at a length of 1 inch and have stripes which are white, black or yellow in color.
- In the beginning, you will not find any pests, but when you find the holes which are being consumed through the leaves of your Collard green plants, then you can treat them as culprits.
- Collard greens are the plants which are somewhat hardy, but they get impacted by some diseases. The plants when kept in the soil which is well-drained, then it will help in the prevention of clubroot. This will, in turn, cause the plants to get withered or they will stop the production of leaves. The spots which are present on the leaves of Collard green plants are an indication of fungus which has to be treated by making use of sulfur, neem oil or any other type of fungicide. Make sure that you are avoiding the plantation of Collard greens in the same soil which you have used in the previous plantation as this will help in the prevention of diseases like Black rot, black leg, and yellows.
Harvesting Collard greens:
- Collard greens generally have a sweeter taste when you let them frost over before you decide to harvest them. Normally, anyways, Collard greens will be ready for harvest anytime in between 1 ½ to 2 ½ months after the process of germination takes place.
- In order to get the best results, you can harvest them anytime after the first frost has arrived and completed.
- You can start picking up the Collard greens when they become frozen in the ground. Anyways, you will have to be careful and gentle when dealing with the Collard green plants as their leaves will turn brittle when they are in a frozen state.
- The entire plant has to be cut for about 4 inches from the level of the ground. As an alternative, you can pick individual leaves, by starting to work from the bottom to top so that there would be a chance for the new leaves to grow. It is also a very good method to harvest the Collard greens, but removing the individual leaves means that your plants will be continuing to produce all across the growing season.
- If you pick single leaves from your Collard green plants, then your Collard greens will continue to grow in the coming year. Anyways, this will be completely based on the climatic conditions present in your locality. Collard greens will be able to resist the frosts, but if the temperature or the climatic conditions in winter are harsh or severe, then you will have to go with the re-plantation of greens in the coming year.
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Facts about Collard greens:
- It would take at least 2 to 3 months to grow Collard greens starting from the germination of seeds to the stage of harvesting. When you are planting with the starts, they would be would at least a month old at the time of plantation. So when you are going with the plantation of Collards from starts, then you can harvest them within 1 ½ month of the plantation.
- The months of spring are the best time to start growing Collard greens. Especially, when you plan to plant them for 2-3 weeks prior to the last date of frost in the spring, then it will ensure that the plants are getting a very good amount of cold temperatures which add flavor to them. The seedlings have to be planted in the months of autumn about 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost.
- Collard greens will come back all season long. You will have to cut the Collards back by leaving 80% of the leaves. You will have to just remove them and keep treating them for pests and you will see them coming back within 15 days or so.
- A fertilizer which has a high nitrogen content is the best for Collard greens. Such fertilizers are like calcium nitrate which has an n-p-k ratio at 16-0-0. You can also make use of any garden fertilizer whose n-p-k ratio is at 28-3-3 or any kind of formula which is similar to this with high amounts of nitrogen.
- You can plant Collard greens along with thyme, hyssop, and artemisia. These are the plants which are also called as cabbage moth repellers. Dill is also one of the beneficial plants which can be used as a companion to Collard greens as this will attract wasps which consume cabbage worms.
- Collard greens are very much resistant to cold than any other plant which belongs to the family of brassica.
- We cannot eat Collard greens when they flower. Moreover, the development of flower stalk will make the Collard greens less edible. So it is always suggested to harvest the Collard greens as early as possible to restore the nutrition and flavor.
- Collards love to grow in full sun like any other vegetable. They will also be able to live in partial shade but make sure that they are receiving at least 4 hours of sun so that they will bring up the full flavor.
- Sometimes you will see that the Collard green leaves are turning into a purple color. This mostly happens when there is a deficiency of phosphorus. All the plants will need phosphorus for the creation of sugars, energy. If the soil is cold in the season of growing, there would be the development of deficiency of phosphorus in a few plants.
- Growing Collard greens from seeds, cuttings in pots, containers, square foot gardens, backyards, balconies even on the terrace are very easy and simple.
That’s all folks growing of Collard greens at your home. Good luck and happy gardening!.
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