History of Collards
Collard greens date back to pre-historic times and originate in the Mediterranean. These green leafy vegetables were grown with Kale, and the ancient Romans and Greeks made no distinction between the two plants. Today we associate Kale with salads and foods consumed raw while collards are always served cooked. Collards come from the Brassica family and are used mostly today in the United States, Africa, Brazil, Spain and Portugal. While collards come from the same family as cabbage, they are known for not having a “head”. The head is a large concentration of immature leaves at its center. Collards also sit on a stalk that can sometimes be as high as 60 cm tall. The collard is prepared cooked because, just like the cabbage, the mature leaves can be tough and difficult to digest. The leaves are boiled, flavored and served. Collards are a highly productive crop as they are available year-round, but are preferred after the first frost. Those who eat collards prefer the post frost vegetable because the leaves are said to be more flavorful that time of year. In Portugal and Spain, eaters also savor the broth of the collards as it is flavorful and rich in vitamins. Collard greens are also known as tree cabbage and their varieties include:
· Vates, and
· Georgia LS
Collard Growing Needs
Collards are resistant to cold and the leaves should be picked before they reach maturity. They are best planted from early spring for a summer harvest and mid-summer to late fall/early winter harvest. Moderate soil moisture is required with 3 feet between rows. Seeds should be sown from ¼ to ½ inch deep. The plants become quite large so please leave about 2 feet between each plant. Harvesting the collard is best when older but more mature leaves are cut, leaving the younger, less mature leaves. This allows continued harvesting until the end of the season. Some gardeners prefer the less mature leaves because they are more tender. Remember that this is okay, but your leaf collection times will vary over a wider period, and older leaves must still be harvested before they reach complete maturity.
Aphids and worms are the principal enemies of collards. Aphids can be seen as they build-up colonies on the backsides of leaves. Please watch for this. Various caterpillars and butterflies are the most common pests to cabbage and collards. These include the cutworm, cabbage worm, and diamond-backed moth larvae. Basic pesticides will repel all these pests.