Being a newcomer to the south, I like the idea of incorporating a whole new list of historically normal and place-centric foods into my garden and menus. I read this great article in Urban Farm magazine a few months ago that seeded the idea of growing collards. This was perfect timing since I was purchasing a house in late July making my 2014 garden and harvest options limited due to a shortened outdoor growing season for this first year.
Collards are one of the southern foods that did not make their way into my rural, Midwestern childhood the way that fried okra, catfish and frog legs did. My only experiences to date have been at restaurants in and around the Raleigh area with mixed results. One of the reasons the article and the idea of growing my own collards appealed to me was the opening part about them being often overcooked, which I would say is true of every dish of collards I have had so far. I also believe that the time from harvesting until it is on the plate makes a difference no matter what kind of food we are talking about, so the idea of fresh collards hopefully cooked to perfection is one I am looking forward to.
With my limited time frame, I have planted 16 dwarf collards (another 16 just last week and I am waiting to see if they germinate) and 144 spinach plants (2 varieties) in my outdoor garden. I am still looking at options for additional cold weather plants but feeling pretty good about what I have growing considering my time and weather constraints for this year.