Harvesting is one of the nicest chores of the gardening season. It's easy to do right:
Start harvesting when there's something to eat. Gardens are for eating, so as soon as your endive, spinach, celery, lettuce or whatever is big enough to toss in a salad - harvest. There will be plenty more to come.
Harvest at peak flavor and freshness. Young greens are the tastiest and most nutritious. Don't wait for prize-winning heads of lettuce - start picking them when they're softball size, still crisp and flavorful.
If you're freezing or canning spinach, chard or beet greens, harvest the choicest leaves and plants and process them right away for the best quality. Harvest lettuce and other greens close to meal time to retain as much quality and food value as possible.
Try for two, three or even four cuttings. Leaf lettuce and chard are the best examples of crops that "come again" after you harvest: Cut them an inch above the ground and the plants will send out new, fresh growth in an effort to make seed. A long serrated bread knife is the best tool for harvesting wide rows of greens.
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Article published on June 23, 2008.