Southern Greens

TurnipGreens

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I have some questions for those with experience growing Turnip Greens (especially Seven Top), Collards, Tree Collards/Kale, and Mustard Green.. Mya rea is Zone 7b.

Collard, Mustard, Turnip Greens:
1. I know they do well during Fall, but how is their survival and production rate going into Winter and early Spring in my zone?
2. How good are they about self-seeding?

Tree Collards/Kale:
1. What's y'all's experience growing them?
2. How do they taste, and how do they compare to the other above three?
3. Do they do well in Summer?
4. Anybody have any experience growing them in North Alabama or other Zone 7b areas? 7b is listed as 'marginal' for every variety I could find, except for those bred specifically for cold, so I wanted to see if anybody had any hard knowledge of their ability to grow here sustainably. I'm not sure if our winters would kill them or not.

Thanks!
 

digitS'

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Southern Greens in a Southern Environment? I am probably the wrong person to reply but then, I didn't expect to have a member named "TurnipGreens" to have a question about turnip greens ;).

Your questions deal with a number of species and wrapping them into a single reply is difficult. To add to the complexity, have you considered Asian greens? Several of them are there with your turnips, in the same species.

Collards and cabbage are cousins of some of those Asian greens, along with kai-lan and kale. Then there is Siberian kale.

Welcome to the forum! I will be back soon maybe with 1 or 2 answers to your questions and with, what I hope is, more encouragement :).

Steve
 

digitS'

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Growing up eating Scotch kale, having a mother who shopped at health food stores – it was a fairly natural progression to go on to growing Asian greens. I was about 30 before I knew what green vegetable I was eating at Chinese restaurants. Buying the bok choy that was available to me at a supermarket was unsatisfying but the Asian markets had a smaller, green stem type. Mei Qing Choi has been in my garden for decades.

After trying them somewhere, I wasn't too quick to grow collards. Once I grew them myself, I discovered that they were much more tasty after frost and into Winter. We always see that idea about a harvest time for Scotch kale but we eat young, kale leaves throughout the growing season and appreciate them. This cut-&-come-again technique works for kale although it may weaken the plants so that they don't survive Winter months.

What I learned about collards is that it's pretty darn hardy. Leaving collards to grow through the season has meant weeks of harvest during Fall and again in the Spring. I don't know about different varieties – we have just purchased seed off the racks and that seems to always be Georgia Southern. (I have to say that the recent and unusual Winter with sub-zero weather and no snow cover, took both our collards and Scotch kale out in January.)

Portuguese kale is a favorite. I see that some are classifying it as collards. That makes some sense but these are all cabbage relatives. I don't much for Lacinato kale. BTW – Lacinato and Portuguese don't seem very Winter hardy, especially not the Portuguese.

During the growing season, we have been eating more gai lan in recent years. It is another cabbage/broccoli sister. Chinese "cabbage" is not. A brassica rapa, it's more closely related to bok choy. There is lots of Springtime bok choy for us right now out of a hoop house setup that springs into use every March and for a couple of months but there is also bok choy in the open garden now and soon ready to harvest. I find Chinese cabbage a little difficult to grow outside of the hoop house and don't like to leave that structure up as long as that vegetable requires to develop a head.

There's also komatsuma (bok choy relative) and senposai. Senposai is a cross between komatsuma and regular cabbage. Both are worth growing.

I really know nothing about re-seeding and, of the brassicas, only save seed from a couple that were bought or given to us years ago. One is a larger type of choy sum. The other is a twisted-stem mustard. Oh yeah, then there is the mustard species ;). It will reseed.

Steve
 

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