Friday, September 28, 2012

Survival Crop: Collards

Collards are an under-appreciated staple of the Deep South. When it's collard season, it's really collard season down here. Piles of them overflow from the back of pickup trucks by the side of the road - and if you're a survival gardener, that's just what you want. Overabundance.

The thing that really makes collards key down here is their season. Most other crops get toasted by frost... but not these guys. You can stuff your freezer with these without much trouble. I put away at least forty pounds last year. We STILL have collards in the freezer. We even dried some to add to soups and omelets. Out of the brassica family, collards are right up there with radishes on the "ease of growing" scale. They're tough, take the cold, grow and grow and grow, and rarely if ever will fail to give you a harvest.

Observe the image above and see how patchy the grass appears... and how lush the collard greens are growing. Unstoppable.

On the nutrition front, collards are also impressive. Check out these stats (images from

Low on vitamin K? Look no further. Collards to the rescue!

Other bonuses to collards: young leaves are excellent in salads. Cooked and cut in strips, they can fill in for pasta in low-carb diets. (My wife makes a killer "collard lasagna.") They can also be used to threaten children, as in "Clean your room or so help me I'm gonna serve collards again tonight!"

To plant the easy way, prepare a bare patch of ground, then scatter seeds, rake them around, and water for a week. Baby plants will come up everywhere. Thin as needed to give them space for growth and eat the thinnings. Harvest leaves as needed - the plants will take a lot of cutting.

And seriously - if you're not growing these yet, set aside a patch. Spring or fall: collards are a must-have.


3.5 Spuds

Name: Collards
Latin Name: Brassica oleracea
Type: Biennial
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Medicinal: No
Cold-hardy: Yes
Exposure: Full sun
Part Used: Leaves
Propagation: Seed
Taste: Good
Method of preparation: Raw, boiled, steamed, dried.
Storability: Leaves can be dried/frozen
Ease of growing: Easy
Nutrition: Very good
Recognizability: High
Availability: High

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At September 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

Totally. Collards and kale have become my two workhorse crops. In central Florida you can raise them about 9 months out of the year, if you keep toying with shade and water. I find that if you plant enough you can keep harvesting them while the leaves are young, before they get too tough and stringy.

I find that having a couple fresh collard leaves right before a workout just seems to give me a little extra energy.

I will have to try the collard lasagna.

At September 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

The "lasagna" is amazing.

When I had my gigantic garden of collards last year, we fed ourselves daily, plus had plenty left for goats and chickens... and still put away 40lbs into the freezer. Cut and come again all the way. And you're right... they do have that "so green it gives you power" thing going on.

At September 28, 2012 at 5:08 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

They would probably be good in one of those green smoothies EVERYBODY's talking about. Hmmm...not having to buy expensive berries from the grocery store but still getting to have a smoothie. Sounds good to me.

At September 28, 2012 at 9:48 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Rachel, darling... you're making me look schizophrenic.

At September 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

Hey Rach... log in as David and say something really embarrassing. I'll make sure it gets out to all his blogger friends before he can change it.

I tried juicing collards but they were just a little too bitter. Kale is right on the edge of being to bitter but still drinkable. Maybe if the collards were juiced with something sweet like carrots and apples...

At May 2, 2014 at 4:23 PM , Blogger MClemons said...

I juice them with carrots and apples, use lime/lemon/orange to cut bitterness and it's great, i've been drinking one all day. throw in a little fennel and aloe for flavor.

At May 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Wow. I believe you're going to live forever.


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