75 days — 'Vates' collard plants grow large, upright, reach about twenty-four inches tall producing dark-green leaves with a mild, cabbage-like flavor. It is bolt and frost resistant and the veins do not turn purple. It is typically used for boiling for Southern-style greens.
Developed by the Virginia Truck Experiment Station, 'Vates' was introduced in 1950. (Read more about "Vates" by scrolling down further this page.) Each packet contains one gram, which is approximately 250 to 300 seeds.
In the Southern United States, sow in mid-July to late summer for winter and spring harvests. In colder climates, when the soil temps are between 50ºF and 80ºF, sow in late spring for a fall harvest. Sow seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep, in rows spaced three feet apart, and cover with fine soil. Depending on the conditions, germination occurs in six to eighteen days.
Thin seedlings to six inches apart and allow them to continue to grow. Once those plants get large enough to touch each other, harvest whole plants by cutting at the soil line resulting in a final spacing for your collards of about eighteen inches between the plants. Give them room as they tend to grow large.
Growing from a main stalk, collard leaves radiate outward from tough, inedible stalks. Their individual leaves should be harvested from the bottom of the stalks upwards before they are full-sized when they become tough and woody. Collard greens tend to store better than most other greens. Harvest but do not wash prior to storage. Simply wrap the unwashed leaves in moist paper towels and place in sealed containers. Prior to use, wash thoroughly.
If you maintain good soil moisture during the summer's hot periods, control insects, and regularly harvest leaves, collards will reward you with an abundant harvest.
Cooked collards can have a bitter flavor but it is enhanced when served with vinegar. Flavored vinegar, for example, the "juice" from a jar of pickled vegetables, are quite tasty. You might also like to try combing with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, garlic, or crushed red pepper for seasoning. Have fun and experiment!
• "75 Exciting Vegetables For Your Garden," Jack Staub, Gibbs Smith Publishing, Layton, Utah, 2005.
• "Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America – Collards: Lists 1-27 Combined," Edited by Mark W. Farnham, USDA/ARS Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, South Carolina.
• The word "Vates" is actually an acronym for the Virginia Truck Experiment Station. The term "truck" comes from the French word "troquer," meaning "to barter." Click here for more information about the origin of the phrase, "truck farm."
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