Collard greens were always a staple in my Grandma Georgia’s garden. We enjoyed many Sunday dinners with her collard greens as a favorite side dish. She doesn’t grow collards anymore, so I feel compelled to plant a few for her in my own garden. This fall I am trying a new collard variety, an easy-growing Southern heirloom from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange called Georgia Green Collards – which couldn’t have a more perfect name!
Collard seeds are so tiny! They’re about the size of a pin head, so a seed packet goes a LONG way. The seed packet from Southern Exposure contains an average of 600 seeds, which can last the average urban gardener a very long time.
Did you notice that info on the seed packet stating the seeds are pre-1880? I’m pretty excited to grow a vegetable that my ancestors cultivated in their gardens so many years ago. But there is no way I will plant 600 collard seeds in my urban raised bed garden any time soon. After a few years, seeds can lose their viability, so in two or three years I’ll start conducting viability tests before planting the seeds to get an idea of how many I’ll need to plant in order to achieve my desired germination. I’ll be sure to come back later and write a post on seed viability testing in case some of you are unsure how to do it.
I planted my Georgia Green Collard seeds on September 13th. I always start seeds in 4 inch pots filled with organic potting mix. I sowed 2-3 seeds per pot at about 1/4 inch deep. Ultimately, I want to end up with one seedling per pot. So if all of the seeds germinate, I have to thin them out later. But let me tell you, thinning is easier said than done! When you see those babies pop up through the soil – healthy and happy – it’s not as easy as you think to snip them. Nearly every gardener I know struggles to thin seedlings. After you’ve given them so much love and attention, you want to save them all!
Collard seeds germinate rather quickly under good conditions. My seeds germinated about five days after they were planted. When you see those babies pop up through the soil – healthy and happy – it’s not as easy as you think to snip them. Nearly every gardener I know struggles to thin seedlings. After you’ve given them so much love and attention, you want to save them all!
When seedlings are about 2 weeks old, I either thin them with clean scissors or separate and transplant them to their own pot. Since I have a hard time with the whole thinning thing, almost 100% of the time I will separate and transplant.
In addition to sharing a name with my grandma, Georgia Green Collards are special because they produce tender, waxy leaves and are slow to bolt. Plus, they can grow through winter here in Zone 7 which means I’ll be growing collards well into the season, even after the first frost. Yay!
Peace and zen,