- Kale and Collards
- Champion Collards
The most bolt-resistant collard greens. Developed by the Virginia experimental station to be productive and long-standing, Champion is a workhorse variety with large, smooth green leaves.
Collards are more tender and heat-resistant than kale. Fast and easy to cook, with a delicious flavor that is complex and rich. I don't know why they have been overlooked by the foodies for so long! A great summer alternative to kale, and a great overwintering green down to zone 6. I like to transplant these into the garden in August or September, among the maturing winter squash vines. They appreciate a bit of shade from the hot summer sun, and as the days cool, the squash vines die down out of the way. If you put a ring of shell or ash around the collards, you give them the extra calcium they need, while deterring slugs. Grown by Shoulder-to-Shoulder Farm.60 days 80 seeds
One of my favorite quick dinners is to chop some collards and saute them in a frying pan with garlic, then serve with a fried egg on top. you can add a bit of liquid and braise them briefly if the leaves are really big or you like them softer.
Very cold-hardy winter standbys, whose flavor is sweetened by frost. Very easy to grow.
Like all brassicas, these like a soil with plenty of compost and some lime (pH 6.5 to 7.) Usually sown in trays or pots and transplanted when space opens up in the garden. Transplant after there are at least 6 leaves, and before they are pot-bound. Bury up to the base of the first leaves, firm well. If the weather is hot, dry, or windy, remove the bottom pair of leaves to minimize shock.
Siberian kales are extremely cold-hardy, surviving temperatures well below zero. Their flavor is best when sweetened by frost.
Collards are actually a non-heading, cabbage, with smooth, tender leaves and a mild flavor. They don't have to be used all at once like a head of cabbage; pick leaves as needed. They are a standby for meals all year. Many folks--like my mother--only survived the Great Depression because home-grown collards were available year-round. Traditionally served with bacon and a sprinkle of vinegar in the South. The Portuguese national dish is a stew of collards, sausage, and beans. I like them lightly cooked and served cold as a winter salad, too.
Tree Collards are a unique perennial hardy in zones 8-10. It doesn't usually make seed. It has seldom been commercially available, instead gifted from neighbor to neighbor as a "passalong plant," primarily in African-American gardens. We are grateful to all those generations of gardeners who preserved it for us.
Seed-saving: Lacinato kale and collards are the same species as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi--Brassica oleracea. Siberian kales are Brassica napus, like rutabagas. Turnips and Asian greens are another species, Brassica rapa. Texel greens are Brassica carinata. All varieties within the same species will cross with each other.