Growing Microgreens: Collards
The Growing Microgreens series is a series where I tackle a new microgreen seed. I’ll do research on the seed, try different techniques and report on the results here as I go. Take a look at Growing Microgreens: Indoors as a place to start if your new here.
Collards may be one of the most underrated healthy greens out there. While kale gets a lot of the media attention, collards outranked it in the CDC’s nutrient density score. They are high in vitamins A, C, and K. Not to mention having plenty of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Collards are versatile thriving in cold and tolerating hot climates. They are easy to grow in the garden but I found them even easier to grow as microgreens.
Popular varieties include:
Collards have two main options. Georgia is an heirloom variety from the 1800’s, and Vates was developed at the Virginia Truck Experiment Station. Georgia apparently has more flavor, but the Vates is more durable. In microgreens applications, I go with flavor.
Collards are a small seed at about 7,000 seeds per ounce. I find smaller seed easier to deal with, more forgiving, and economical.
Let's get started!
Seed: Georgia Collards
Container: 5x5 seed trays
Soil: Jiffy Seed Starting Mix
Light: 125W Hydrofarm Compact Fluorescent Light
Water: Haws Handy Indoor Plastic Watering Can/Spray Water Bottle
My variety. I picked up Georgia Southern collards at my local farm & garden store for $7/lb. I doubt the seed is organic, and I have no idea about germination rate. The price is so cheap, I'm very curious if they will do well.
There are lots of seed companies out there. Lots of options like organic, heirloom, non-gmo, etc. Cost is a big factor for me, but other qualities may influence your decision. The good news is, there are a lot of choices, and it’s fun to try the different options that exist.
My container. For small seeds, I like the 5x5 seed trays and other containers around that size. They provide a few servings of microgreens which is just enough for a home application. For this specific post, I used my Jiffy Windowsill Greenhouse Kit.
The Jiffy Windowsill Kit doesn’t have drainage holes, so watering from the bottom-up won’t be an option here. I had to watch your moisture a little closer so that the water did not pool in the bottom of the pot.
The humidity in my house in the winter is really low. Hovering between 16% to 32%. This isn’t enough to get a good germination rate, so I covered my greenhouse kit to raise the humidity around the seeds. This should translate to a higher germination rate. It can also increase your chances of mold and fungus, but I have had no problems with that in the past.
FYI: I use these AcuRite Monitors to get a quick look at humidity and temperature in my growing area.
My soil. I went with Jiffy Seed Starting Mix. It is easy to find, relatively cheap, and sterilized.
I filled my container with about 2 inches of soil since I am going to grow to seed leaf stage for this experiment. These windowsill kits don’t have much more room than that, anyway. If I were going for true leaves, I’d want more room for at least 3-4 inches of soil.
At this point, I water the soil to get it moist. I don’t like to water after putting the seed in because it can cause the seeds to move around.
Measuring and adding seeds. For collards, I use two teaspoons (10 ML) of seed for the size container I have chosen. If you do any outdoor gardening, it may look like too much. With microgreens, however, you want to cover the surface with seed. Not only will you get more seed, but they also help hold each other up when they are a bit crowded.
After sprinkling the seeds on the soil, I mist the seeds with water well. I put the cover on top that came with my greenhouse kit, but you can use a second container upside-down or plastic wrap. As soon as I notice the seeds starting to grow, I remove the top to reduce the humidity and chances for fungus/mold.
Adding light. Collards seem to be slower growers than other microgreens that I have tried. I have been adding light at 3 days, but with collards, I didn’t think they were ready until 4 days after planting.
I put the windowsill kit under my Hydrofarm Fluorescent Grow Light. This light is about 6 inches from the plant, so they dry out quick. I had to water every day.
Harvesting my crop. My plan was to harvest at 10 days after planting. So I stopped watering 24 hours before planning to harvest to help with storage. I’ve read that microgreens will last longer in your refrigerator if they aren’t watered before harvesting.
Cutting was a breeze. I lifted roots and all out of the pot, then used a sharp pair of scissors to cut it. I make sure to not get any roots, soil, or the seed hulls. Again, you don't want to get them wet before storing so I didn’t wash until I'm ready to eat, just put them in the refrigerator.
The windowsill kit gave me a total of 1 oz. of microgreens. I’ll add about 1/3rd of an ounce to my salads for the next few days to give them more variety and nutrients. All in all, collards were easy to grow and produced well.
Want to learn more about collards? Collards: A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table is an excellent book on the history and culture of collards.