How To Harvest Leafy Greens – Picking Leafy Greens In The Garden

harvesting greens
harvesting greens
(Image credit: rez-art)

There are many types of leafy greens available, so it’s no excuse to say you don’t like greens. All of them are easy to grow, rich in nutrients (although some more than others) and some can be eaten both fresh and cooked. Harvesting leafy greens is a simple matter as well. Read on if you’re interested in learning how and when to harvest garden greens.

When to Harvest Garden Greens

Most leafy greens take very little time to mature and can be eaten at most any stage of their development. They can be harvested whenever there is enough of the crop to make it worthwhile picking.

Most greens are cool season veggies that are planted in the spring for an early summer harvest. Some of them, like spinach, can be planted again late in the summer for a fall harvest as well. Kale can be picked even later. Imagine, picking fresh leafy greens until the first hard frost!

A leafy green harvest of vegetables that are usually eaten uncooked in salads can be picked early in the spring when leaves are young and tender or the gardener can wait a bit until leaves are more mature. Other crops, such as Swiss chard, tolerate warm summer temperatures. This means that picking this leafy green can continue from July all the way through October!

How to Harvest Greens

A leafy green harvest may consist of different types of lettucekalecabbagebeet greens, or collards. Leafy green lettuces can be picked as micro-greens when the leaves are tiny. They will be milder in flavor than when the leaves are mature but simply delicious.

As the leaves mature, the larger outer leaves can be picked off leaving the majority of the plant in the earth unscathed to continue to grow. The same method can be used on other greens such as kale.

In the case of cabbage, wait to pick until the head is firm, and the same goes for head type lettuce. Beet greens can be picked when the root is mature and eaten, or picked when the root is very tiny, as when thinning the beets. Don’t throw out the thinnings! You can eat them too.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.