Maximizing Your Harvest

What if I told you, you could increase your harvest without much additional effort? Well, it’s true! We routinely discard tops, leaves, and flowers that are as equally delicious and nutritious as our target crop part. Before we jump into the thick of it, a few pointers:

  1. we strongly encourage you to harvest when your crop is ready. While broccoli flowers may be delicious, we hope you are able to show your students how to properly harvest broccoli (buds) rather than a smaller harvest of flowers.
  2. we recommend keeping bolted/past-their-prime plants in the garden until you have a date picked for planting. These plants will help keep your soil in place, keep it moist, and keep cats out.
  3. taste a small segment of the “additional harvest” item before using it in food preparation. Taste can vary or change in the course of a few days. Usually, the younger/closer to bolting, the better it tastes.
  4. some items, like flowers, have a very short shelf life. We recommend having a storage and/or usage plan in place before harvesting.

 

Bok Choy/Pak Choi

  • Additional harvest: if your bok choy bolted, you might still be able to harvest everything (bok choy, flowers, flowering stem). Bok choy is more forgiving than other greens. Just do a quick taste test to check–the more recent the more tender.
  • When to pull: when you need the space. This plant will not be harvestable in warm weather.
  • Additional information:

Broccoli

  • Ideal harvest: closed broccoli buds and 6-8 inches of stem
  • Additional harvest:
    • before bolting: leaves (up to 40%)
    • after bolting: broccoli flowers/flowering tops
  • When to pull: when you need the space. This plant will not be harvestable in warm weather.
  • Additional information:
    • https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/category/raab-kale-broccoli-collard/
    • https://foodytwoshoes.com/2012/08/14/broccoli-flower-salad/

Brussels Sprouts

  • Ideal harvest: sprouts, when 1-2 inches in diameter
  • Additional harvest: leaves
  • When to pull: when finished harvesting. Brussel sprouts perform reasonably well in warmer temperatures.
  • Additional information: https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/in-season/2015/06/market-watch-brussels-sprout-leaves

Cabbage

  • Additional harvest: leaves
  • When to pull: cabbage performs reasonably well in warmer temperatures and can be left in until cabbage head fully forms
  • Additional information:

Carrots

  • Additional harvest: carrot tops (when the rest of carrot is harvested)
  • When to pull: if carrot is left past harvest window, when it starts to bloom. You can keep a few blooming carrots in the garden to attract pollinators.
  • Additional information: https://www.thekitchn.com/5-ways-to-eat-carrot-tops-183415

Cauliflower

  • Additional harvest: leaves
  • When to pull: when you need the space. This plant will not be harvestable in warm weather.
  • Additional information: https://www.thekitchn.com/why-you-shouldnt-throw-away-cauliflower-leaves-waste-not-218094

Celery

  • Ideal harvest: stem/stalk, cut at base
  • Additional harvest:
    • Before bolting: leaves
    • After bolting: seeds
  • When to pull: this entire plant is edible before bolting. After bolting, wait until flowers are dry and you can harvest the seeds.
  • Additional information: http://dish.allrecipes.com/how-to-use-celery-leaves/

Cilantro

  • Ideal harvest: leaves, stems/stalk
  • Additional harvest: seeds (coriander), roots
  • When to pull:
    • before bolting: pull the entire plant, everything from roots to leaves are edible
    • after bolting: wait until flowers are dry to harvest the seeds.
  • Additional information: cilantro/coriander roots is found in Thai cuisine.
  • https://onthegas.org/food/coriander-root

Collards

  • Additional harvest: stems, flowering tops
  • When to pull: collards perform reasonably well in warmer temperatures and can be left in the garden until it bolts. Harvest leaves before it bolts!
  • Additional information:
    • https://diningwithdebbie.net/2017/02/24/save-the-stems-southern-collard-greens/
    • https://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2013/4/7/please-do-eat-the-kale-flowers-april-2013-april-2013

Kale

  • Additional harvest: stems, flowering tops
  • When to pull:
  • Additional information:

Lettuce

  • Ideal harvest: leaves
  • Additional harvest: n/a. Harvest before lettuce starts growing vertically.
  • When to pull: when you need the space. This plant will not be harvestable in warm weather.

Nasturtium (flower)

  • Ideal harvest: young leaves and flowers
  • Additional harvest: n/a
  • When to pull: nasturtium can tolerate some heat and they should keep growing until the end of the school year.

Radish

  • Additional harvest:
    • before bolting: leaves (when the rest of radish is harvested)
    • after bolting: young flowers pods
  • When to pull: when you need the space. This plant will not be harvestable in warm weather.
  • Additional information: http://fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com/2013/06/10/cast-off-cooking-radish-greens/
  • https://www.gardenbetty.com/radish-seed-pods-and-some-pickles/

Spinach

  • Ideal harvest: leaves
  • Additional harvest: n/a. Harvest before spinach starts growing vertically.

Additional resources: