Chronicle of the Collards

For Thanksgiving I harvested the last of the collard greens. 

11-27-08_Collard Stalks 

The plants were started inside under lights way back in March or April.  Collard started in (typing) paper pot

My “planter” was constructed from regular typing paper that was folded, wrapped around a can of spray food color, removed from the can and then I tucked the ends under to form a base.  I ran a band of packing tape around the middle for added stability.

Homemade Starter Pot

It’s my version of the homemade newspaper starter pots.  The spray food can was a good size for me.  The final pot is the width of a standard cell pack, but it had more depth for the roots. 

I started the seeds in flats.  Once they germinated and had a few true leaves, I transplanted them to the paper pots which I then put in a small box.  I was able to line them up in the box in rows of 4×6, so I had 24 plants growing in a small amount of space.

The plants grew well in the paper pots.  This picture is showing the root system just before I transplanted them into styrofoam cups.

 Collard root system grown in paper pot

The collards are in the back couple of rows.  The row is also planted with lettuce, Bachelor’s Buttons in the front, cabbage in the middle, and a couple of marigolds with the two tomatoes in the back.  For some reason, the tomato plants in this bed never grew well and I ended up pulling them out.

Here they are back in May.  05-31-08_Lettuce, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Here they are the end of June.  06-30-08_Lettuce, Cukes, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Middle of July.  07-14-08_Lettuce, Sweet Potatoes, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Middle of August.  08-17-08_Cukes, Sweet Potaotes, Cabbage, Collards

The Bachelor’s Buttons had outgrown their space, so I pulled them and Free Cycled them.  Then I put in the trellis for the cukes that I made from some bamboo poles that I had received from Free Cycle.

Beginning of September.  09-02-08_Cukes, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Collards

The cabbage are gone now, and I started a few turnip seeds in the front squares.

I only picked the leaves from the collards a couple times during the summer, and they just didn’t taste as good as the leaves harvested after the frost hit them.   On top of that, the collards occupied the same space from May until now, so there was no chance to do any succession planting.

So, what did I learn?

  • In my humble opinion, collards taste best when they mature in cool to cold weather.
  • If you want the plants to mature in cool weather, you should start your seeds closer to July or August..
  • Older leaves need to be picked, otherwise they die off as the new leaves develop.
  • I will calculate the planting time of the collards so that they’ll be the last thing growing in the garden to be harvested after the frost hits…no frost cover needed.

A while back I transplanted some carrots from a planter into the raised bed.  Yes, you can transplant carrots and I’ve got proof.  I’ll post the proof and pics soon.

Happy Gardening!!!



  1. November 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Cheryl – I’ve been contemplating using some newspaper cups myself….I made one the other day, just for the fun of it. I guess if I start selling a few transplants, I can definitely use them – and it won’t cost me anything. For now, I’ll just use the many cell packs and starter cups that I have.

    I picked all of my collard leaves before the 16 degree night arrived, and gave them to Mom and Dad. I hope they liked them!


  2. gardengoodies said,

    November 29, 2008 at 1:15 am

    EG-I’ll try anything once. I’ve started plants in egg shells, egg cartons, plastic bags, restaurant trays.

    You might find a little useful information at this site as far as selling plants next year. I haven’t bought anything from him, but I get the newsletter.

  3. November 29, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Cheryl – thanks for supplying that link. That was good reading, but very lengthy! lol. Anyway, my little propagation chamber holds 42 bonnie cups, and I should easily be able to sell heirloom tomatoes for probably $3 each, I would think. That would pay for all of my electricity and supply costs for the entire year.


  4. Melissa said,

    November 29, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    It’s nice to see that you have not lost your gardening spirit even though the weather is cold. For a second there I thought we had lost you but now I see you have been “bargaining” :). Which by the way those are some great deals. Hope the birthday and thanksgiving were good.

  5. gardengoodies said,

    November 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    EG-I forgot that you built your propagator around what you wanted your growing containers to be (the smart guy that plans ahead). If you’re anything like most gardeners, when your seeds start growing and your don’t have the heart to kill them, you might have to build a few more propagators for the extras.

    And you’re right…it was a long read just to say I sold plants and I made a lot of money but, I don’t know, I found it kind of interesting.

    Melissa-I don’t know what I’ll “talk” about once I pull the little carrots out. You might have to listen to me talk about the family…scary, isn’t it?

  6. November 29, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Cheryl – I’ve already decided that if this thing works well, I’m gonna build another one next year. The next one will be constructed of much lighter materials, though! LOL. I’d really like to get into growing transplants for the public. That would be a great way to spend my retirement, much later in life.


  7. gardengoodies said,

    November 29, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    EG-Making money doing what you really like. Sounds great. I’m 100 percent certain you’ll make it work.

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