Heroic measures for the tree collard

So two days ago we had a nearly 80 degree day.

That is bad.

Honestly the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been considering I was at work, sweating near the zoo, unable to water my plants.

Mom’s heroic measures for the rest of the garden were enough.

The tree collard got wrecked.

It is just too big for the pot so the water mom poured on it ran right through the fabric pot. She tried- and most likely did save it- but oh boy.

Of course the fabric pot is also the problem! The porosity is great for a lot of things- my blueberry loves it’s pot. Also parsnips and beets love it too. We’ll see about the garlic but it looks happy so far. The aeration of the roots is great for a lot of plants- but the tree collard is a brassica.

Brassicas aren’t like other vegetables- they’re mostly the sort of annual that likes being drenched before you harvest them all and let the rest of them seed.

I think I was seduced by the fact that the tree collard is a perennial. Made me forget it was still a brassica!

So yesterday I just poured water into the thing. It bounced back- but I realized it’s location was also a problem. In the depths of summer it had been against the wall to protect it from the sun- and I’d only moved it to the sunnier part of the garden because it was winter.

It’s clearly not winter anymore. So last night I dragged the whole thing over to the fence- watered it some more, and hoped for the best.

Well it’s not dead yet.

Clearly it needs the bad bits cut off- but the fact that it’s enormous and root bound is part of the problem. Tree collards really should be in the ground- or in a larger raised bed- or even just in a bigger pot!

The fact that it’s more root then soil is part of the problem- when that happens with a houseplant you can tell because water goes through it super quick and it dries out too fast. In winter that was ok with the collard- but spring, and summer, approach.

But! I have another 15 gallon pot- same size as the new home of the lemon verbena.

The fabric pot is only 10 gallons, and while it eventually needs a more permanent home this will tide the plant over for a few months.

I tried to just lift it out of the pot so that I could re-use it- but it ripped.

Which gave me permission to get the scissors out and just cut the thing back.

Ok! With the fabric pot peeled off, all I had to do was fill the base of the new pot with some fresh soil and fertilizer, pop in the collard, fill in the sides- and done!


At this point doing too much damage to the root ball would be killer considering how the heat wave has no doubt weakened it. The side shoot will most likely be a cutting for a friend, but for now everyone has to stay together.

So where am I going to put the tree collard?

So the two terra-cotta pots are the perfect size- but they’re terra-cotta. They’ll lose moisture just like the fabric pots.

The middle pot is my beloved barbecue pot which while appropriately glazed is too small.

The red pot one of the strawberry bowls is balanced on would be perfect- but its being used as a stand.

Well- I could just swap it for the large terra-cotta.

So the first hiccup was that I forgot it was filled with soil still.

Good soil. Damn. I’m not just composting this! So I dragged over some empty pots and started emptying big red out.


Big red was wet! The bottom was soaked, which is actually a good sign.

Means I’m right about this being the right pot. Lack of drainage might be a killer for another type of veggie- but good even moisture is perfect for a brassica.

Once I dug out most of the soil I tipped it over to dump the rest of it out.

Right on to my toe. FUCK

The digit is bruised but thankfully not broken- and I thank my lucky stars I was wearing proper shoes instead of sandals.

I gave myself a good minute or two to collect myself and swear at the grass.

Back to work. I swapped the pots and dragged over big red.

New soil- fertilizer- I re-potted the tree collard and gave it some new compost on top.

Of course positioning it meant moving everything else. The blueberry is amazing but I don’t know about the ugni…

That is firmly next weeks problem. Now that the tree collard was properly planted, it was time to cut off the bad leaves and treat the good leaves with some horticultural oil- cabbage aphids never sleep, and the ladybugs wont be here for another week or so.


I may have saved the tree collard, I may not have- but I made a valiant effort so go me.

It does really hammer home how I need to start making cuttings and spread the love here- the plant is so… big that just letting it grow hog wild is clearly not sustainable. But it is a delicious addition to the garden and I hope that my efforts today were enough to save it.

Now if you excuse me I have to go put some ice on my foot. Ceramic pots are fucking heavy, and toes are squishy and weak.

But frankly- I think the tree collard is worth it.


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