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What is the best type of tree collard?

Purple Tree Collards are still our favorite because they rarely bloom and stay more productive year round. They are also aesthetically striking in the landscape because they contrast highly with the other plants due to their coloration.

My tree collards are blooming! Are they dying? What should I do?

It is normal for tree collards to bloom in Spring and it varies from variety to variety. They are not dying.  

If you want to harvest and eat the flowers as you would broccoli, you can do so, but the plants will make flowers again and you will be in effect extending the reproductive cycle and delaying the plants’ return to leaf production.

If you don’t eat the flowers, let them bloom and form seed pods. When the pods are turning less green and more brown, you can cut the branches of seeds off. This will be approximately 3-4 months of wait time. Once you cut them off, they should return to vigorous leaf production.

How do I collect tree collard seeds?

You need to follow the process outlined in the previous question but wait for them to turn brown on the plant. Once they are a brown/tan color, you can remove them and put them in an open brown paper bag or cardboard box. Let them mature and dry out for 2-3 months before you open the pods and extract the seeds.

Are the seeds true to type (identical to the parent plant)?

No, tree collards readily cross-pollinate with other members of the brassica family, so if you purchase or harvest seeds, they will be experimental varieties. All will be edible but perhaps not all will be your favorite. You can grow seedlings large enough to see different characteristics of leaf shape, texture, color, etc. and choose which ones you want to grow out.

Can I grow tree collards in a pot?

Yes you can. The bigger the pot, the happier the plant will be long-term. You can use fabric bags too. 15 gallon containers are the minimum size for long-term success. For the best results, give it the highest quality potting soil you can afford. Potting soil is designed to drain properly and to provide proper nutrition to the plant (and thus to you). Several times each year you will want to feed your potted tree collard plants some organic all-purpose fertilizer. Tree collards and other plants in that family also appreciate some calcium, such as crushed oyster shells, 1-2 times a year.

What animals eat tree collards?

We all have different “wild” animals in our gardens, that can sometimes eat our plants when we don’t want them to. It is impossible to predict which animals will eat them. Just because you have squirrels or blue jays or possums doesn’t mean they will eat them, but it is a possibility…Tree collards are tasty and nutritious and the animals know that. On our urban farm, squirrels, rats, opossums, raccoons, and birds leave them alone. However, we have heard from plenty of customers that these animals and others can decimate them.

As for domestic animals, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, poultry, and rabbits love them.

Do you ship internationally?

We can only ship seeds internationally. Please don’t ask us to ship anything other than seeds. We have shipped them to every continent in the last 6 years. Shipping is $10 for up to 5 packets but there is no tracking and we cannot guarantee their arrival. Shipping to Europe, Canada, and Asia has been very reliable. Australia is the most problematic for shipping. If you are interested in ordering seeds, please send an email with the products and quantities desired and we will send you a PayPal invoice.

How do you ship domestically? Can you rush ship my order?

We ship via USPS and are not currently set up to expedite shipping. Plants are shipped Priority Mail while cuttings and seeds are shipped first class.

When do you ship?

We typically ship on Friday and/or Mondays.

Why are you out of stock on so many tree collard varieties?

The best selection of varieties of tree collards are roughly from July to January or February. The reason for this is that many of the varieties are blooming from February through June or so. During this time they are not able to be successfully propagated.

How do you cook them?

This is a big yummy topic, but in a nutshell, use them in any recipe that calls for collards, kale or swiss chard. This includes stir fries, soups, smoothies, collard chips, or egg frittatas. You can lightly steam collard leaves whole to create amazing wraps. Some people do not digest raw members of the brassica family well and it is suggested by some nutritionists that they are more readily digested when cooked.

Can I grow tree collards in a colder USDA climate?

Yes, and it will probably be more work than those of us in more moderate climates. We have heard from customers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Maine, Vermont, New York, etc. who are finding ways of growing them. One customer from Connecticut recently said their Merritt Collard seedlings survived the winter this year outdoors with no protection from snow or cold!!!!
One option is to take cuttings of your plants in late September or early October before the first freezes and bring them in the house. They could be kept under grow lights, in a jar of water, or wrapped in moist paper towels in the refrigerator. Another idea is to grow them in a greenhouse that stays around 30 degrees. Perhaps a cold frame may also work. We are in warm California, so we are not experts in any of these techniques.
We are also lucky to now offer Michigan Tree Collards, which are hardy down to 0 degrees F.

What other plants can I plant under or near tree collards?

We like to plant low lying medicinal or culinary herbs under or next to tree collards. Not only are those plants useful or yummy, but they provide important insectary habitat for beneficial insects. There are too many plants to name but here are a few: purslane, lamb’s quarters, borage, self-heal, thyme, hyssop, mache, calendula, oregano, mint, violets, clover, and pennyroyal.

What are perennials? Why should I grow perennials?

Perennials are plants that live for at LEAST two years. Usually, perennials live for many years. If one is gardening in USDA zones 8-10, some perennials include, fruit trees, fruiting vines such as kiwi and grapes, most berries, Tree Collards, Asparagus, Artichokes, many herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage, and many more obscure plants such as Longevity Spinach and Scarlet Runner Beans.
Perennials receive the same soil preparation as annual vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, kale and tomatoes, but they produce food for many years instead of a season. This way, some garden beds don’t have to be constantly planning for and changing for short-term crops.

Is your nursery certified organic? What are your nursery practices?

Because Project Tree Collard is a tiny nursery, it is too costly to go through the certification program at this time. However, we adhere to organic practices, or what we call “beyond organic”. Organic certification actually limits and regulates compost applications and many other natural growing practices. It also approves some insecticides such as BT, which are quite toxic.
We believe in only using natural fertilizers such as crushed oyster shell, mineral rock dust, and homemade compost. We never spray our plants with anything, not even soap. We have allowed insects, birds, bats, etc. to find their own balance over the past 17 years on site. Thus we have very few pest issues. In the last few years we are embracing the term Regenerative Agriculture. We are about working with nature, improving soils, increasing insect and bird habitat, while growing rare perennial vegetables. 

How do I prepare for planting tree collards in my garden?

You will first want to find a bed with the appropriate sun exposure for your climate (for example, full sun in more temperate climates such as the Pacific Northwest, and some dabbled or afternoon shade in Florida and Arizona)
We are a fan of “no dig” methods of gardening, aka Permaculture, but prepare your bed in your own way, integrating abundant compost into the bed. You may choose to add some calcium supplement such as crushed oyster shells, since tree collards are heavy calcium feeders.
Plan on planting your tree collard plants approximately 3 feet apart. You can do it closer or farther, but this is a good distance for most gardens.

What do you think about propagating tree collards in water or with rooting hormone?

You are free to experiment with your own ways of propagation. We advise our customers to root them a certain way because it seems to have the most consistent success for beginners and advanced gardeners alike. We want success for everyone. Our method is the one we use to root a hundred plants a week.

How do you harvest tree collard leaves?

You can rip leaves off your plants and the plants usually remain undamaged. However, it is most prudent and aesthetically pleasing to individually cut leaves off at the base of the stalk.

If your plants are getting leggy and/or woody, you can harvest the entire tip of a stalk. This way, you can cut the leaves off and eat them, AND you get a cutting from this method. Your plants will be more bushy and shorter if you harvest this way.

How soon can I harvest my tree collard leaves after planting?

This is difficult to predict depending on the time of year you planted, the weather, watering, and soil quality. Usually it is a few months. Since we are growing them for the long term, it is best to not harvest too soon as it takes energy away from the plant. You can harvest when your plant is about 1 1/2 feet tall and appears to have a sturdy stem(s).

What should I do about aphids on my tree collards?

Generally speaking, tree collard plants can be grown relatively pest free, but aphids can flock to tree collards in the spring. Purple Tree Collards tend to get the least aphids of all the varieties, with Dinosaur and Big Blue tending to get the most. That said, if you have an abundance of tree collards, you can just let them be. Often if you wait and observe, you will notice ladybugs, birds, and other beneficials coming to eat the aphids. Aphids are most attracted to the tender new growth at the tips, especially the flower buds.

If you can’t wait to see if nature will step in to control the aphids, you can use a high power jet of water on your plants. This knocks most of them off, especially if repeated a few days in a row. You can also spray a solution of soapy water on the aphids but make sure to use an environmentally friendly product because this will end up in your soil.

Send us a message

If you didn’t find your answer above and still need to send a message, use this form and Sequoiah will try to get back to you within a day or two. (She spends more time farming than on the computer)  Please keep in mind that due to high volumes of messages and questions, we may not be able to respond. Project Tree Collard puts out a lot of content on YouTube to help address a lot of questions.


Thank you for your patience! Sequoiah
On Summer Break
Our next shipping date will be July 15 th, 2024