Light requirements: Full sun is ideal, but plants yield in part shade (4 to 5 hours sun).
Planting: Space 18 to 24 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Collards need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.5 to 6.8.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Aim for 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week through rainfall or irrigation. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation and keep leaves clean from splashing soil.
Frost-fighting plan: Established plants tolerate hard frosts (temperatures below 28º F). Frost-kissed leaves boast sweeter flavor. You can continue to harvest collards until temps tumble to the teens. It’s a good idea to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring or early fall frosts by covering plants with a frost blanket.
Common issues: Watch out for cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, slugs, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Susceptible to the following diseases: black leg, black rot, clubroot, and yellows. To prevent diseases from building up in the soil, don’t plant collards or other cole crops in the same spot each year.
Harvesting: Harvest leaves when they are up to 10 inches long. Younger leaves have better flavor; older leaves tend to be tough and stringy. Pick lower leaves first, working your way up the plant. You can even harvest leaves when frozen in the garden, but be careful because the frozen plant is brittle.
Storage: Refrigerate unwashed leaves in a lightly damp paper towel slipped into a very loosely closed plastic bag. Leaves store up to 5 days.
For more information, visit the Collards page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 49
- Carbohydrates: 9g
- Dietary fiber: 5g
- Protein: 4g
- Vitamin K: 1045%
- Vitamin A: 308%
- Vitamin C: 58%
- Folate: 44%
- Riboflavin: 12%
- Vitamin B6: 12%
- Vitamin E: 8%
- Manganese: 41%
- Calcium: 27%
- Iron: 12%
A big helping of this popular Southern vegetable will give you major amounts of the three main antioxidants found in foods: vitamins C, E, and A. Like other members of the Brassica genus of foods, collards have been studied for the importance of their phytonutrients, some of which appear to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers. The enormous amounts of Vitamin K and folate are also important in bone health. Vitamin E and the many minerals in collards also promote lung health, cardiovascular health, and mental functions.