How to Harvest Collard Greens

How to Harvest Collard Greens: A Fun Fall Activity!

Collard greens are a leafy, cool-weather vegetable trendy for cooked greens.

And if you are into growing your food, you may consider growing your collard greens.

Part of the growing process would also imply you should learn how to harvest collard greens properly.

You don’t’ need to live in the south to enjoy delicious and healthy collard greens.

Collard greens are highly nutrient-rich, contributing ample amounts of vitamins A, K, B-6, and C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

In a few words, collard greens are pretty good for you.

And though it may seem to sound a little intimidating at first, especially if you are new to growing your plants, you have nothing to worry about.

Harvesting involves a relatively simple process; with the right guide and equipment, you’ll soon become a pro at how to harvest collard greens the right way.

A brief history of Collard Greens

A primitive version of cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. Acephala), collards have been cultivated since Roman times, and the word collard is a corruption of colewort, meaning leafy cabbage.

As domestication of the subspecies progressed in various parts of the world, cold-hardy kales were selected in northern climates.

In contrast, gardeners in warmer climates of South America, Africa, Portugal, and India selected headless cabbages that could adapt to humid heat and grow in short winter days.

Today’s vigorous collard varieties result from two thousand years of these efforts.

How to Harvest Collard Greens

How to Harvest Collard GreensPin
  1. Harvest leaves from low on the stem first and works your way up the stalk. Pick leaves from the outside of the plant and work inward. Be careful not to damage the stem where new leaves emerge.
  2. Leaves will come away from the stem with a sharp downward pull. You can also use a sharp knife.
  3. Leave at least four leaves at the top of the plant (the growing crown), allowing the plant to grow new leaves for future harvest.
  4. Regular harvest and even watering will keep the plant producing new tender leaves.

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Additional Tips on How to Harvest Collard Greens

  • Collard leaves are ready for harvest as soon as they reach usable size. They will be most tasty when picked young, less than 10 inches long, and dark green. Older leaves will be challenging and stringy.
  • Collard greens are ready for harvest 75 to 85 days from transplants, 85 to 95 days from seed. Collards generally take 75 days to reach maturity, but the leaves can be harvested before.
  • Plants can be harvested and cut to ground level when they reach 6 to 10 inches in height, or you can pick the individual leaves based on size preference.
  • Collards have a better flavor after withstanding a few touches of frost and can tolerate temperatures into the upper 20s.

How to Harvest Collard Greens FAQs

How to plant collard greens?

  • Since collards are a cool-weather plant, they are planted in late summer or early fall for a winter harvest in the south.
  • In northern climates, plant collards a little earlier for a fall harvest. For a spring harvest, begin seeds indoors four to six weeks before planting outdoors.
  • Transplant the seedlings outdoors three weeks before the last frost date. Plant the spring crop in a raised bed to prevent overwatering from the spring rain.
  • To prevent clubroot disease in the future, do not continuously plant Cole crop vegetables in the same spot each year.
  • Plant collard seeds in rows set 3 feet apart and thin seedlings to 18 inches apart.
  • Collards need full sun but can be planted in poorer or average soils. To discourage clubroot disease, plant in soils with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Water 1 to 1.5 inches per week.

How to care for collard greens?

  • Fertilizing: Scatter 1 cup of garden fertilizer beside the plants for every 30 feet of row, about one tablespoon per plant. This is called side-dressing. Mix the fertilizer lightly with the soil and water.
  • Watering: Water the plants well each week if it does not rain.
  • Weeds: Keep the garden free of weeds because they rob the plants of water and nutrients. Pull or hoe the weeds carefully to prevent damage to the collard plant’s roots.
  • Diseases: Collards are subject to some conditions. If the plants have spots on the leaves, you may need to use a fungicide. Follow label directions.

Do collard greens grow back after cutting?

Once you harvest the first leaves, your collards will grow back and regrow even quicker, giving you a cut-and-come-again crop for weeks and weeks, if not months.

How do you pick collard greens?

To select collard greens, you want to find collard greens with a nice green leaf; the leaf should be nice and firm; it shouldn’t have any signs of brown or yellow.

Quality collard greens are firm and crisp. Firmness will show you that the collard greens are relatively fresh and that they have been appropriately stored in the store, as well as while being transported from the field to the store.

Please pick up the greens and bend them a little bit.

They should be firm and not floppy.

How often can you harvest collard greens?

After sowing seeds or setting out seedlings in August, start harvesting outer leaves in late September and pick more leaves every five days for five to six weeks or until cold weather seriously slows new growth.

How do you cut fresh collard greens?

Beginning about two months after planting, harvest by clipping individual leaves.

Collards are very hardy, and the eating quality will improve into the late fall with light frost.

Late-summer sown or planted collards can be wintered in cold frames, hoop houses, or in the open in mild regions to extend the season.

Protecting with row covers can extend the harvest period.

How to wash collard greens?

  1. Collards can be pretty dirty, so clean them before cooking with them. The easiest way to wash collard greens is to place them in a baking dish or a large rectangular food storage container.
  2. Fill the dish or container with cold water, and let the collards soak for a few minutes to loosen the dirt.
  3. Use your hands to swish the greens in the water to remove any dirt. Drain the water from the container, rinse the collards, and pat them dry using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

How to cut collard greens into strips?

  1. Place washed collard greens on a cutting board. Fold each green in half lengthwise over the stem running through the middle. Use your knife to cut the stems off of the collard greens. Discard the stems.
  2. After removing all of the stems, stack several leaves on top of each other in a neat pile. Starting at the bottom of the leaves, roll them up tightly.
  3. Slice the leaves perpendicular to the roll into thin strips. This technique is called chiffonade, and you may be familiar with cutting basil or other greens.

How to use collard greens in the kitchen?

You can eat collard greens raw or cooked. They have a softer texture and a milder flavor when cooked. You can try several recipes, including; Shredded Collard Greens Salad with Peanut Dressing or Lentil Risotto with Collard Greens.

How to store collard greens?

  • Store washed collard leaves for several days to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Place leaves in a perforated plastic bag wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper to keep leaves moist and to avoid drying.
  • Collard greens will store for two to three weeks at 32° to 34°F and 90 to 95 percent humidity with some air circulation.
  • You can harvest the collard plant whole and keep the leaves fresh indoors for a few weeks by setting the roots in moist soil or sand.

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How To Harvest Collard Greens Video

Photo of author
Joe Farmer, The harvesting guy is all about fresh produce and enjoying the harvest all year round. He's got tips and tricks for backyard harvesting and is always up for sharing his love of homegrown food. When he's not in the garden, you can find him out on the hiking trail or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.
Photo of author
Joe Farmer, The harvesting guy is all about fresh produce and enjoying the harvest all year round. He's got tips and tricks for backyard harvesting and is always up for sharing his love of homegrown food. When he's not in the garden, you can find him out on the hiking trail or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.