When to Plant Collard Greens – Planting Guide 2022

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when to plant collard greens

While collard greens may be more popular in the southern United States, you can still grow them in backyards around Canada and the United States. Learn when to plant your collard greens so you can have a new source of nutrients.

When to plant collard greens: There are two times of the year that you can plant collard greens, in the spring and the fall. Spring planting should happen two weeks before your last frost date. If this is too late in the season, you can also start the seeds indoors. As for fall, aim for at least eight weeks before the first frost date. Collard greens are ok with some frost, however, so they should be ok in the fall. The cooler the temperatures, the less bitter the leaves will be.

Planting Collard Greens in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

Collard greens are a cool-weather crop and need cold temperatures to grow. The hot, humid atmosphere of a tropical climate will not allow this crop to grow.

Dry Climate

You might have some success with collard greens in a dry climate. Their soil needs to be moist, so you will have to stick to a rigid watering schedule.

Temperate Climate

The cool spring temperatures of a temperate climate, along with adequate rainfall, make for good conditions for collard greens. As a bonus, the growing season is usually a bit more flexible as winters are shorter.

Continental Climate

You can grow collard greens in a continental climate but you will have to work around the sometimes long winters. Plant your seeds indoors in the spring and plant a bit earlier in the fall to avoid early harsh frosts.

Polar Climate

Even though collard greens are a cool-weather crop, they still need some warmth, which a polar climate can’t provide.

What are collard greens?

While more and more people are turning to different leafy vegetables, it can be hard to decide what will taste good. Collard greens may not be as popular as spinach or kale but they still pack quite a nutritious punch.

Collard greens are related to cabbage and kale, and for the most part, you can cook them similarly. The leafy part of the plant is what is most often used, as the leaves are very large.

While collard greens are more popular in the Southern United States, there is not a lot stopping people from all over Canada and the United States from growing them in their gardens.

Choosing Collard Greens Seeds

choosing collard greens

Georgia

If you live in a warmer climate, this is a good variety as it won’t wilt as fast as other types of collard greens. However, it does have a longer growing period of 75 days.

Vates

If you don’t like a lot of texture to your leaves, you will be pleasantly surprised by this variety. It has nice, smooth leaves and is ready in 75 days.

Champion

Those with shorter spring and fall growing seasons will appreciate this variety. It is smaller in size and is ready in just 60 days.

Flash

If you have a small container garden, you can try your hand at this variety. Its leaves are small and they have a nice, sweet taste. As a bonus, this variety is ready in just 55 days.

How to Plant Collard Greens Seeds

Timing

Collard greens are a cool-weather crop. As such, you have two opportunities every year to grow them.

While spring is still the most popular growing period, you can also get a bonus crop in the fall. Timing is key, however, if you want the most success.

For spring planting, you can get collard greens into the ground in early spring, around April. If you live in an area with a long, cold winter, you can start the seeds inside, around March, and then transplant once the weather warms up.

For fall planting, aim to get your collard greens into the ground in late summer, around September. The seeds need enough time to grow before the ground starts to frost and eventually freeze.

Depending on your variety, collard greens take about 55 to 75 days to mature. If you have long winters, you will want to select varieties that don’t take as long to grow so that you can have your crop growing in the right temperatures.

Don’t be afraid to try fall planting, however. The cooler the weather is, the sweeter your collard greens will be. If this crop is harvested too late in spring or early summer, it can be quite bitter.

Sun exposure

Overall, collard greens prefer full sun. However, if you have partial shade, they will be ok.

Make sure that throughout the whole growing season the area you have selected has enough sun. During spring, trees will sprout their leaves which can turn a sunny area into a very shady area quite quickly.

Soil Type

Collard greens need soil that is well-drained but still moist. They need soil that can take rainwater in the spring and fall and actively cycle it through the soil system.

Make sure your soil is broken up and is not hard-packed. You can add a bit of sand or organic matter to make the soil better.

Sowing seeds

Collard greens have small seeds so be careful when planting them. They do not need to be too deep in the soil, so aim for about ¼ to ½ inch deep.

However, you will need to provide plenty of space between each seed, or if you’re worried about all of them taking, thin the plants out once they start to grow.

Collard greens can grow fairly round as their leaves move in an outward pattern. You want the end result of seed planting to have 18 to 24 inches of space. 

How to Water Collard Greens

You want your collard greens to have nice, moist soil. It shouldn’t be water-logged, however.

Because you will plant in either the spring or the fall, you may not have to water as much as with other plants. However, these times of the year can be uncharacteristically dry so even if it is cold outside, it does not mean that the soil is automatically moist.

Aim to water your collard greens about 1 to 1 ½ inch of water each week. You should add a layer of mulch once the leaves start to sprout to help retain water within the soil.

How to Grow Collard Greens

how to grow collard greens

Fertilizer

Before you plant your collard greens, you should make sure the soil is nice and fertile. Dig it up and add manure or compost.

This is an especially important step if you have been using the same part of the garden for other crops. Each time you plant a new crop, you need to replenish the nutrients that previous plants have used up.

Once your collard greens are growing, you can side dress the soil with compost. Just make sure you don’t disturb the shallow roots.

You can also add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil. Sprinkle some on the ground every four to six weeks and then water well.

Weeding

As soon as your collard greens sprout from the ground, you want to add a layer of bark mulch to the soil. This will keep weeds at bay and will also keep the soil protected from the sun and moist.

Pests and diseases

As collard greens belong to the cabbage family, they will share the same types of threats. Aphids are the most common pests, so always be on the lookout for these tiny insects.

Slugs and cabbage worms are also a possibility. Check for holes in your leaves and look on the undersides of leaves to see if you have any unwanted guests.

Harvesting

Collard greens have leaves that can be picked almost any time. If you are preparing a side dish, simply pick the number of leaves that you need and the rest of the plant will keep growing.

If you are worried about bitter leaves, be sure to harvest them when they are young. The leaves will have a smoother texture and may even have a sweet taste to them.

How long do collard greens take to grow?

Depending on the variety, collard greens can take between 55 and 75 days to grow. While this isn’t too long, it can be disrupted by outside temperatures.

While you want to sow your seeds outside, about two weeks before the last spring frost day, this can be pretty late for some climates. Starting your seeds indoors and then transplanting them can be a workaround.

Likewise, while you want to start your fall seeds in September, this can still be a bit warm in some climates. However, collard greens can survive a light frost so your climate may promote a long fall growing season.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a new, nutrient-dense vegetable, try collard greens. With broad, deep green leaves, this plant has tons of vitamins and minerals in it. As a cool-weather crop, you can plant collard greens in early spring or early fall.

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