Ole Timey Blue Collards
60-80 days. Beauty and kale-like flavor combine in this historic variety. We adore the 2’ tall, majestic blue-green leaves streaked with purple veins. Large leaves and upright growth make for an easy harvest. Collards have the same flavor and health benefits as kale so throw them in any dish calling for kale. With deep Southern roots tracing back over a century, this variety has found a new home on our farm in Michigan. This is a Seed Savers Exchange variety donated by Ralph Blackwell of Alabama, whose mother used the greens to make a dish like sauerkraut. A traditional African-American recipe calls for long-cooking collard greens with smoked/salted meet such as ham hocks which makes them extra tender and flavorful. Many African-Americans are working to revive traditional foodways to connect with the past and provide a healthy food future. NN[[end tab]] [[start tab]]
Growing Instructions (for USDA Zone 5b):
Collards tolerate cold weather so they can be started extra early. Start collard seeds indoors 3/1 at 72-85° (can use a heating mat). Days to germination: 5-8. Transplant outside 3/27, 12” apart. Or, sow collard seeds directly outside anytime 3/27 – 8/1. Sow 3-4 seeds together in a group ½” deep, spaced 12” between groups. Keep seeds evenly moist until germination. Thin to the strongest plant in each group. Protect collard plants from deer, groundhogs, and rabbits which will devour them. Collard plants may be eaten by several different species of caterpillars. If they cause damage, hand remove caterpillars or spray organic BT.
Harvest individual leaves off of mature plants once they are 2 months old. Don’t remove more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time.
Seed Saving Instructions for gardeners:
Collards are somewhat difficult to save seed from. Collard plants must overwinter in order to bloom and produce seed. Sometimes they will survive the winter with protection. Collard is in the Brassica family so it is insect pollinated and cross-pollinated. Collards will cross with any Brassica oleracea that are flowering at the same time (broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower). Isolation distance: ½ mile. Collards can suffer from inbreeding depression if you don’t save seeds from enough plants. Minimum population size: 10-50 plants. To harvest seed, allow plants to flower and collect seed from mature pods.