Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Collard greens are easy to grow, tolerate the heat and cold, and are well suited to large and small gardens. Their best growth is during cool weather so now is the time to plant yours.
Collards, which are grown for their leaves, are low in calories and high in protein, minerals and vitamins.
The roots of this plant can reach 2’ so dig the soil as deep as possible. The soil needs to be loose so the feeder roots can grow more easily. Begin by scattering a complete garden fertilizer (10-10-10) and rake it in. Next. Spread compost over the area before you plant. Work the soil into ridges that are 6” to 8” high and 36” apart.
If planting seeds, make a shallow ditch down the middle of the hill. A teaspoon of seeds will plant a 30’ row. It is better to seed heavily and then thin out when plants appear. Cover the seeds with ¼” of soil and lightly water.
Depending on the temperature, the plants should come up in six to twelve days. The cooler it is, the longer it takes. Thin the plants when they are about 6” tall. Eighteen inches should remain between plants. Even though small, the plants you pull are edible and can be used in salads or other dishes.
Collards need nitrogen to get that dark leaf color so fertilize with one cup of garden fertilizer per 30’ row. Apply the fertilizer beside the plants which is called side-dressing. If the plants get pale you may need to apply again in 4 to 6 weeks.
The lower leaves of collards are harvested for eating which allows the plant to continue producing leaves. Collards will produce in temperatures of 20 degrees and taste sweeter after a light frost.
When cooking, be careful not to use too much water since this reduces the nutrients of this healthy plant.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.