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Tree Collards | A Low-Maintenance Vegetable for Edible Gardens

Tree Collards | A Low-Maintenance Vegetable for Edible Gardens

Photo Credit: https://www.projecttreecollard.org/

Tree Collards are members of the Brassica family and are believed to originate from Africa by means of seeds and cuttings brought to America by slaves and passed along in the African American community. Tree collards are extremely hardy perennials. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees and highs up to 100 degrees and can last for many years if given the right growing conditions and maintenance.  They vary in size but can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet depending on the variety (green and purple). Tree collards have larger and broader leaves and lack the bitterness often associated with others in the Brassica family with a taste akin to kale. Of note, the purple varieties are richer in nutrients with a hint of sweetness.

Tree collards prefer full sun and well-draining, rich loamy soil. They have average watering needs like other Brassicas. They grow well if planted in the ground or containers, but you will need to bring the plant indoors during the winter in they are grown colder regions (hardy to USDA Zones 7-11). Staking the plant is recommended to provide stability from windy conditions as well as occasional pruning to retain their hardiness and aesthetic shape (the branches can become disorderly).

Tree collards are typically grown from cuttings or potted transplants, but they can be grown from seed like other collards. Like other collard varieties, they share the same pest and disease problems like cabbage worms, aphids, flea beetles, root maggots and cabbage loopers. The usual diseases are powdery mildew, black rot, club root, leaf spot and fungal diseases.

Tree Collards can also be utilized as an ornamental or architectural plants due to its versatility and unique physical character. It will certainly be an intriguing focal point in any garden, but their best quality is its edibility of course!

The shared picture above is from https://www.projecttreecollard.org who specializes in teaching and spreading the word about this magnificent and hardy plant. They also have an online shop and blog.

 

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