Growing Late Season Greens

Reader Contribution by Erin Sheehan
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Being from Upstate New York, I never really had the idea to grow collard greens in the garden. But my husband had tried them before and liked them, so we gave it a go. Turns out they are a great late-season vegetable and last well into the winter, so you can still be picking fresh greens even in December.

Collard greens taste far better after a hard frost. You can plant them in the spring, but you’re better off waiting. You can use the garden space in the spring and summer for other things — beans, peas, garlic, anything that will clear out of the garden by late summer.

Sow your seeds right in the ground about six or seven weeks before your first frost. The package will tell you 18-24 inches apart but I crowded mine closer to 12 inches apart and they are thriving. They germinate in about a week. You can plant them in a slightly shady area but they will do better in full sun.

Other than a little watering and weeding, collards don’t require much care. One advantage to a late summer planting is that you shouldn’t have a huge problem with weeds or even pests. We planted our crop at the community garden, where they have every pest under the sun, but the collards have been pretty much untouched. I imagine it’s just too cold at night now for most bugs.

You can start harvesting your collards after about six weeks, but if you wait until a hard frost you will be a lot happier with the taste. They lose their bitterness and get a whole lot sweeter after a frost.

The only drawback to collards is cooking time. They need at least two hours on the stove to soften up, but it’s well worth the wait, they are delicious!