Let's start with the soil prep. We started preparing the soil last Saturday, the 17th. That was when Mike and Alan dug up the plot with with a motorized rotary tiller. Then yesterday, to loosen it up still further down -- to about 10 inches or so -- we went at it with our garden forks. Since collards produce tap roots as long 15 to 18 inches, we hope this first 10 inches of fluffed-up soil gives them a good start.
The results from the Ag Center at U Mass Amherst told us the soil was pretty anemic and too acidic. To fortify and sweeten it, we mixed into it a good deal of compost, some dried-out chicken poop and cow manure, plus what seemed like a ton of pelletized lime.
Now the planting. For the collard greens, we planted three rows of seeds. They’re in the center of a 6 x 9 foot section that plays host on one side to Swiss chard and on the other to two varieties of kale, the collards’ closest cousin.
Seeds for collard greens are tiny. We spread them fairly densely along their three rows, with the idea of thinning the less successful seedlings out later.
Then we covered the seeds with about 1/2 inch of dirt and watered each row with a sprinkling can, so as not to disadvantage any of our promising young contenders.
Seeds for collard greens are said to germinate fairly quickly. So we expect to see their sprouts some time next week or the beginning of the week after that.
This type of collards -- Georgia, from Burpee -- is supposed to reach full maturity in about 75 days. That means the first or second week in July. We’ll start harvesting leaves, though, probably a good month before that.
Speaking for myself, I love collard greens, though I’ve never grown them, never cooked them. We’ve always gotten our collards, Saturday afternoons, at the basement kitchen of the United House of Prayer for All People, on Seaver Street in Dorchester. Great soul food there.
I look forward to trying my own hand at fixing collards. But I doubt they’ll be nearly as good.