collard greens

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

i planted small plants about 4 inches tall, may 25th. the leaves are big and the plants look healthy. they are now starting to form new leaves at the center of the plants. How do i know when they are ready to harvest? they are not bushy however, they have about 5 layers of leaves going up the stalk. any help tending these would be appreciated.
thanks so much ,
debi z

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Like most greens, collards can be harvested at any point in their growth.

Either cut the whole plant off at the base, or, cut the outter leaves only, on a cut-and-come-again basis.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Sounds like you are growing what we call "cabbage collards"...they tend to grow in the fashion you just described. Like Brook said, you can pick them at will (I would encourage you to pick the outer/older leaves). For extra flavor we like ours to get hit by a few frosts, it tends to sweeten them up a bit. However, if you pick the leaves, put them in a bag and refrigerate them for 3 days or so they will think they've had a frost and then sweeten up. You'll tell a very big difference in the taste!

If the plants are still small and you are concerned about picking them I'd suggest hitting them with some fish emulsion (foliar) or side-dressing them with some high nitrogen food (like blood meal/dried blood). That'll really put on the leaves!

Ahhh..Collards! High in nutrients, a well-known cancer fighter, and down-home good tasting!

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

Does the bloodmeal and/or fish emulsion work the same way for red cabbage, brussel sprouts, and lettuce?

Thanks so much for the tips. I'm having a great time this year with the new veggies i'm growing. of course i'm always learning and asking advice here.

one more question....will they try to seed and what do i do if they do? :) did that make sense? i do hope it did you. :)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

hah!...I understood you completely!
I use bloodmeal on many plants where we eat the leaves. It is high in Nitrogen and really encourages leaf growth. You could use it on all the above-mentioned items. Plants that make fruit/vegetables tho don't need that high amount of N, so don't use it on them. Fish emulsion has a lower quantity of N in it than bloodmeal tho...I will use it as a foliar spray on my maters, peppers, eggplants, etc and it does just fine.
As for seeding (bolting), only your lettuce will try to produce seed at this point. Your other plants will make it thru the winter before they try. My collards will flower next spring here in NC but I look forward to them also. I eat them! They make little heads that taste similar to broccoli. Same is true with turnips. If your winters are harsh I wonder if you can mulch a few plants under hay bales to get you thru.

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

I have always liked the flower heads and leaves of khol rhabi, which i am also trying to grow from seed. they are about 4 inches tall now. my turnips are doing well also. when you grow turnips, can you eat the greens? or is that a special type of turnip greens plant? the only other root vegetable i'm growing is carrots. what do you suggest for fertilizer with these plants? I've been using a generic miracle grow, every 7-10 days. My plants are doing much better than last year when i used a granual once a month. The other veggies i have are eggplant, the summer squash and 2 types of tomatoes, roma and beefsteak. Then a few herbs. thanks for the help.
i don't understand the whole concept of the hay and wintering vegetables. i think i'll be satisfied to get a nice yield this summer and fall. :)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Yep. You can eat turnip greens from any kind, altho some types taste much better than others. If you grow a variety called "seven top" it is my favorite for greens. It does not grow an edible root tho. I like to mix that variety with "Purple Top", it grows a nice-sized and very pretty turnip you can eat so you get the best of both worlds!
For the majority of root crops a good plant food with a good amount of phosphorous will do you justice. I've never used Miracle Grow so can't comment on that...only know how to grow organically.
Sure sounds like you are enjoying a nice garden debi!

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Hey! What's all this talk about collards being a vegetable? I thought they were a basic food group. :-)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

HAH! Brook, did you grow any this year, or do you grow them in the fall? I imagine you have a good "side meat" recipe for cooking them, eh? eh?

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

This is my first year growing collards and I am enjoying this thread. My collards aren't big enough to harvest yet though. I didn't know that you could pick leaves and put them in the fridge for awhile to *sweeten up*. Thanks for that tip Shoe! I'm learning, and ya'all might make a southern gal out of me yet.

Edited to change "you all" to "ya'all". Am I getting better?

This message was edited Friday, Jul 12th 2:39 AM

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Southeren gal, eh?

Well, darlin', in the first place that's "y'all," not "ya'all." :-) Which, by the way, is singular. The plural of "y'all" is "all y'all," unless you're addressing a collective noun, in which case "y'all" is proper. The trick is understanding when a group of people is a group (plural) or a collective noun (singular). And to understand _that_ ya just have to live here.

Very subtle stuff, sometimes.

Note, too, please, the extra sylable in the first word of my post.

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

hey, can y'all teach me to be an honorary southern gal too? eh. now y'all know i like my collards enough to grow me a crop. ask y'all questions too. only problem is i hate peppers and so much of the cooking is with peppers. so i'm in a flumix there. ;-)
thanks for all the help with my collards. oh, i made a mistake and thought i was suppose to buy bone meal. so i did and put it down around the plants. i had bought a small box and it wasn't quite enough so i bought a 20 lb. bag last night. then we went to wallmart and i saw the blood meal box next to the bone meal box and started to read. whoooooops wrong box. so now i bought 3 boxes of the blood meal. the only ones they had. now i have to put the blood meal on. i hope that that this is not a problem. i figure that whatever is in the bone meal can't hurt the plants. :) i'll just have bloody bone meal. :)

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