In the era of heated gun control dialogue I am hesitant to promote any vegetation as “bulletproof”, but here goes. If you want a vegetable that has been promoted as the “New Kale,” try collards. Yep, collards that southern green staple that is usually eaten as a slimy green mass supporting a ham hock thus creating the faux alcohol known as “Pot Liquor.” In the interest of full disclosure, I happen to love an occasional bowl of that liquor especially when served with a rich slab of corn bread.
While the cost of triple washed, organic, supermarket kale now rivals the down payment on your average Lexus; collards (Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group) can proliferate for the cost of a package of seeds. They are a cool season green that likes spring and fall best. They have to be planted before temperatures become too hot and when mature will withstand frosts and light to medium freezes.
From seeds, it usually takes six to eight weeks to produce plants ready for transplanting, although lots of plant purveyors have cute baby transplants ready to stick in the ground now. According to IFAS Extension bulletin HS586 (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu), transplants can be grown and set out in rows 3 feet apart. Spacing within the grown depends on when the crop will be harvested. If they are plucked as cute micro-greens for NY style “salad confetti”, they might be squeezed to 2-4 inches apart. ”Vates” seems to flourish in N.Fla.
Direct seeding is OK too if the soil is loamy to sandy. The gurus say that it is critical to keep the soil moist during seeding establishment. Wind protection is good too. Poke the seeds into moist soil about ½ to ¾ inches apart. Fertilize a good nitrogen source for green color and tender growth. If the little collards look pale and wan, side dress them at least once during the growing season
So what does one get with a “mess” of collard greens? The white- coated lab folks who deliver late breaking nutrition info, say that leafy greens are the key to good health. The folks at http://sm.eatright.org/collardchips have even created crispy “chips” from the wavy green leaves Yum!!!!.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Wash collards, remove center stem and rip leaves into chip-size pieces.
- In bowl, coat each piece with cooking spray (or toss with olive oil if preferred).
- Mist baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange collard pieces in single layer.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly brown and crisp.