If you're looking for tips and techniques to get a better garden harvest this year, try out companion planting! These collard greens companion plants will get you well on your way to better garden success, and minimize pest and disease damage!
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What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is an ages-old practice of home gardeners and farmers alike. The concept is that some plants do very well together, and even help fight off disease and pests, while others have a negative impact on both growth and disease control.
I'm working my way through a series where I share the best (and worst) companion plants for each member of the home garden. Feel free to check out my entire archive of companion plants to see which ones we have tackled so far.
Today we are looking at the best collard greens companion plants, and we will also talk about how to grow collards in various environments.
Let's get started!
The Best Companion Plants for Collards
Since collard greens are a member of the brassicaceae family, they have many of the same likes. Aromatic plants and herbs are particularly helpful to cabbage family members (like collards) in repelling the white cabbage butterfly. Here is a list of the best companion plants for collard greens:
What Not To Grow with Collards
Since Collards are a member of the brassicaceae family (alongside cabbages, brussels sprouts, and kale), it has similar companions and similar enemies as other members of the family. Here are a few that are good to avoid planting alongside any member of the Brassicas:
- Pole beans
A Note About Tomatoes
While tomatoes are often listed as an enemy of all members of the brassicaceae family, Louise Riotte asserts in her book, "Carrots Love Tomatoes" (a classic companion planting resource), that planting collards with tomatoes helps protect against flea beetles. Since this is a primary pest of collards, it's considered quite beneficial.
Anecdotally, in my own garden, I tried pairing tomatoes and collards together with mixed results. The tomatoes seemed to fair well, but the collards were kind of stunted in growth and there did not seem to be any absence of pests. That can be due to a variety of factors, but just wanted to make a note of it for any who are considering the somewhat controversial pairing.
Growing collard greens is a pretty straightforward process, and they tend to grow well if given adequate sun, water, and pest control. Selecting the best collard greens companion plants will help you on the pest control front, but you may need to use insecticidal soap for additional protection against whiteflies.
To grow collard greens, you can start them from seed indoors, plant them directly into the soil, or purchase transplants to plant into your garden. If you are sowing directly, plant your seeds 2-4 weeks before the last frost date for your area. If you are planting transplants, you can transplant to your garden (after hardening off) 3-4 weeks before the last frost date. Be sure to cover them if your temperatures are due to fall below 20°F (-6°C), although I would err on the side of caution and cover them if the temperature was below 32°F (0°C) just to be safe.
Growing Collards From Seed
If you've chosen to grow your collards from seed, you can sow directly into the garden 2-4 weeks before the expected last frost date OR you can start them indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, and transplant them after they have their first set of true leaves and have been adequately hardened off.
To plant from seed, place 2-4 seeds ½" deep in moist, rich soil. Keep adequately watered, but be careful not to overwater your plants. If sowing directly outdoors, space the seeds 18-24" apart in rows 36" apart. Thin your plants to the strongest in each group.
Growing Collards in Containers
If you would like to grow collards in containers, you can absolutely do so! Make sure when choosing your container that it is very large (at least 18" in diameter) and deep. Fill with rich soil (such as well rotted compost) and plant your seeds directly or use transplants. Keep in a sunny place (like a southern exposed balcony) and keep well watered, since potted plants can easily dry out.
If your pot does not have drainage holes, fill the bottom 2" of your pot with small stones or gravel to allow for good drainage.
Growing Collard Greens in Summer
One of the great things about having collard greens in the garden is that they are not as particular when it comes to hot versus cold weather as other greens are. While most greens bolt in hot weather, collards can stand their ground without becoming bitter. The key is to ensure they are frequently watered and out of direct sunlight if you live in a very hot climate like the south.
If you live in the south and want to grow collard greens in the summer, I recommend keeping them under dappled shade and away from direct sunlight. If you can find a space in your garden that is shielded from the hot afternoon sun, even better! You may consider, if you're in a very hot climate like the south, planting collards in your Fall garden. This may be a better choice and help you avoid common issues with watering and pests that come with summer planting.
Growing Collard Greens in a Square Foot Garden
Since collard greens grow to be quite large in size, if you're planting them in a square foot garden, you'll want to dedicate one square to each collard plant. If you are planting from seed, plant 3-4 seeds in the center of the square, and thin to the healthiest plant after they have put on their first set of true leaves.
If you're growing for baby greens, place nine collard green plants per square and trim when the leaves are small and tender.
Square foot gardening is a great method for beginners, and is a great way to get more yield in a smaller area. Check out the book for more information and planting guides.
More About Companion Planting
If you want to know more about companion planting, be sure to check out my archive, or any of the following books. If you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share with other readers, go ahead and leave a comment below!