Harvest Basics (A ‘Plant-centric’ Harvest Introduction)

Getting to know your plants will help you harvest most effectively. While harvesting, you will find that we often eat only one part of a plant we grow. Knowing the edible parts of the plant can help you plan for harvest, preparation, and potential storage of the yield. Here is a quick guide of how to harvest various edible plant parts:

Plant Part Example Crop Harvest Methods and Tools Preparation and Eating Basics Will these veggies keep well after harvest?
Roots Carrots, Radishes, Beets, Turnips Pull from the ground by hand. You may need a shovel to loosen soil
around roots.
Wash roots clean. Slice roots with a knife and cutting board to share. Roots will stay crisp if they are washed and refrigerated. They
soften in sun and heat.
Stems, or “Shoots” Celery, Kohlrabi, Pea Shoots, Chard Stem If tender, harvest by hand. Sturdy stems will require a knife or
Wash stems if dirty. Slice stems with a knife and cutting board to
share if needed.
Stems will stay crisp if they are washed and refrigerated. They
soften in sun and heat.
Leaves Lettuce, Kale, Spinach, Chard Leaf Harvest larger leaves by hand. Cut leaves from young plants. Wash salad greens with a salad spinner. Dressing can add flavor. Leaves will stay crisp if they are washed and refrigerated. They wilt
quickly in the sun and heat.
Flower Broccoli, Nasturtium, Cauliflower Pinch flower stem with hand, or cut with a knife. Check flowers for bugs as they provide many hiding places. Wash
sturdy flowers such as Broccoli.
Delicate flowers should be eaten immediately. Sturdy flowers like
Broccoli will keep if washed and refrigerated.
Fruit Tomato, Squash, Cucumber Ideal harvest windows may be brief. Some fruits require a knife to
Fruits vary widely! Many are eaten raw. Some fruits require cooking. Fruits may vary widely. Most keep well, but many are best eaten raw
in the garden.
Seed Sunflower seeds, Coriander seeds Harvest easily by hand. Some seeds may need to be protected from scavengers. Many are eaten
raw or roasted.
Seeds keep well if dried or if they have a shell.

Your Big Green Garden Educators will supply you with a specific list of plants you have growing in your garden as well as advice on when and how to harvest. Your Learning Garden will provide you and your students with many opportunities to explore and learn about foods we eat!