Most greens and lettuces are cool-weather vegetables. When the season grows hotter, greens will begin to produce tall, flowering seed stems. This is called bolting. When greens start to bolt, they begin to taste bitter—but don’t tear them out of your garden just yet!
In the Rebuilding Together Central Ohio Demo Garden, we planted collard greens earlier in the Spring and decided to let them go to seed. Letting your plants go to seed means that you allow plants to grow even after they’re edible, and harvest the seeds that they produce.
After the flowers fall off the seed stalks, they begin to produce seed pods (see below). These contain the seeds that you want to collect.
We let our seed pods dry on the plant, but you can also pick them and dry them in a paper bag. When the seed pods are dry, remove the seeds and store in a paper bag until next planting season.
The plant can get very big and unruly at this point—who would have thought that this used to be collard greens?
In the Demo Garden we collected some seed pods but left most of them on the plant. Just a short while later, we were excited to discover that the collards had “re-planted” themselves and a whole new crop of collard seedlings had popped up! Without any work, we’ll be getting two harvests of collard greens this year.