Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Collards

Collards are a Southern delight with a mild cabbage-like flavor. High in calcium, the leaves actually get a boost in taste after a light frost. Collards are a nutritional powerhouse that few others can match.

Hardiness Zones:
5-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Directly sow seeds in early spring for a summer harvest, under just a 1/2 inch of soil. Germination occurs in 6-12 days.

Avoid planting collards in the same spot each year, as with any other cabbage family crop. Collards prefer a rich, light soil that is slightly sandy with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Collards have deep roots (up to 2 feet long), so dig at least 10 inches into the soil when preparing the site for planting.

Space Needed:
Thin seedlings when they are 2 inches tall until plants are spaced 18 inches apart. Plant in rows that are 36 inches apart.

Inspect your collards regularly for pests. Collards are especially susceptible to aphids and cabbageworms. Its water needs are moderate, so be sure to supplement when rainfall is scarce; if collards don't get enough water, they turn bitter.

When to Harvest:
When the plants are about 12 inches tall, you can begin harvesting the outer leaves. Some varieties are ready in as little as 60 days.

Average Yield:
Expect up to 20 pounds per packet of seeds during a growing season.

Continuous Yield:

Life Cycle:

Difficulty Rating (1-5):