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