Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart in an area with full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8.Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of compost or other rich organic matter.Collards are fast growers and producers, so it’s essential to feed them regularly with a water-soluble plant food.Add a 3-inch layer of mulch made from organic material to keep soil moist and prevent weeds.For faster results and a better chance at success, start with vigorous young Bonnie Plants® collards instead of with seed.Plant in fertile soil because collards should grow fast to produce tender leaves. .
How to Grow Microgreens from Seed
Aimee Diehl writes from her home in rural Cornwall, VT, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a dog.Check the menu of a fine restaurant or the produce section of a specialty grocery store, and you're likely to spy microgreens: tiny, delicate greens that add color, texture and flavor to a variety of foods as a garnish or ingredient.If you have a sunny windowsill, a shallow container, some potting mix and suitable seeds, you've got all the essentials for growing your own microgreens.This is a great crop for urban gardeners who are limited to a windowsill, balcony or fire escape.Microgreens, however, include a variety of edible immature greens, harvested with scissors less than a month after germination, when the plants are up to 2 inches tall.Salad greens, leafy vegetables, herbs and even edible flowers can be grown as microgreens, though some varieties are better suited than others.Beginners often start by growing one type of seed, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, chia, sunflower or buckwheat — among the easiest-to-grow varieties of microgreens — in a single container.Like all fragile seedlings, you'll need to protect them from weather extremes and drying winds, not to mention hungry garden pests.Start with a warm, sunny windowsill (direct sunlight from a south-facing window is ideal) and a small, clean container.Plastic take-out dishes and disposable pie plates work well, as do clear fruit or salad boxes.Flatten and level it with your hand or a small piece of cardboard, taking care not to over-compress the soil.If you prefer, you can skip this step and instead cover the container with a clear lid or plastic wrap until the seeds are sprouted.We found that pie tins work especially well.Instead of traditional potting soil, we used Eco-Co® Coir Seedstarting Mix .After we watered them, the tiny plants rebounded quickly.The crop is ready to harvest when true leaves form.Plants are usually about 2 inches tall.Use scissors to trim the greens right at the soil level.Rinse the harvest and it's ready to eat.To serve, wash the microgreens with water and dry with paper towels or a salad spinner.Harvest and serve them immediately for the freshest flavor, and add to soups, salads, sandwiches or main dishes. .
How to Harvest and Store Collards
When to Harvest Collards.How to Harvest Collards.Leave at least four leaves at the top of the plant (the growing crown); that will allow the plant to grow new leaves for future harvest.Regular harvest and even watering will keep the plant producing new tender leaves.Store collard leaves for several days to a week in the refrigerator.If you cook collard greens whole, stems will become tender. .
When and How to Harvest Garden Vegetables
For maximum flavor and best texture, most vegetables are harvested just before full maturity.Snap them off at ground level and new spears will continue to grow.Snap them off at ground level and new spears will continue to grow.Beans (Snap): Pick before you can see the seeds bulging.You'll be eating the unopened flower buds of the broccoli so check frequently, especially as the weather warms up, to ensure you don't let the flower heads bloom.You can begin harvesting once the sprouts are at least an inch in diameter.You can begin harvesting once the sprouts are at least an inch in diameter.Cabbage needs to be harvested when it reaches maturity or it will continue to grow and split open.Cabbage needs to be harvested when it reaches maturity or it will continue to grow and split open.Carrots can be left in the ground once mature.Carrots can be left in the ground once mature.Overripe cucumbers can be very bitter or pithy, even before they start to turn yellow.Overripe cucumbers can be very bitter or pithy, even before they start to turn yellow.Cut rather than pulling from the plant.Cut rather than pulling from the plant.Dig, don't pull, and allow the bulbs to dry before storing.The garlic tops will fall over and begin to brown when the bulbs are ready.Dig, don't pull, and allow the bulbs to dry before storing.For the best texture, harvest once the kohlrabi bulb has reached about 2–3 inches in diameter.You can start harvesting leeks when they are about 1 inch in diameter.Lettuce (Head): Harvest once the head feels full and firm with a gentle squeeze.Harvest once the head feels full and firm with a gentle squeeze.Lettuce (Leaf): Harvest the outer leaves one the plant has reached about 4 inches in height.Harvest the outer leaves one the plant has reached about 4 inches in height."New" potatoes can be harvested when the tops of the plants start to flower.Pumpkins: Once the pumpkins have turned the expected color and the vines are starting to decline, check to make sure the skin has hardened enough by poking it with your fingernail.Once the pumpkins have turned the expected color and the vines are starting to decline, check to make sure the skin has hardened enough by poking it with your fingernail.If left too long, they will become tough and eventually go to seed.If left too long, they will become tough and eventually go to seed.As with leaf lettuce and kale, cut the outer leaves and allow the center to continue growing, in the cut-and-come-again fashion.Spinach: You can harvest individual young leaves once the plant is about 6 inches tall.As the plants mature, harvest by cutting stems at the soil line before you see a flower stalk beginning to shoot up.You can harvest individual young leaves once the plant is about 6 inches tall.As the plants mature, harvest by cutting stems at the soil line before you see a flower stalk beginning to shoot up.When the squash turns the color it is supposed to be, cut from the vine.When the squash turns the color it is supposed to be, cut from the vine.They should also give off that distinctive tomato scent and pull easily from the vine when given a gentle twist.They should also give off that distinctive tomato scent and pull easily from the vine when given a gentle twist.The turnip shoulders should be about 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter at the soil line, when ready. .
When to Harvest Fruit and Vegetables from the Garden
They’re still good later, but they have hit their peak ripeness and their flavor will start to deteriorate.If the crop is ripe but doesn’t easy pull by hand (such as eggplant), use pruning shears.Produce will stay crisp and store longer, and not become limp from midday heat.This is especially important for leafy greens like lettuce, chard and fresh herbs such as parsley and basil.It also applies to crisp fruiting vegetables like peas, and anything in the cabbage family like broccoli and radishes.The next best time to harvest is in the evening after the heat of the late afternoon sun has begun to wane.Click on the linked crops below to go straight to the plant page with growing and harvesting tips!Green bracts (“leaves” of the bud) are not wilted and squeak if gently squeezed.Look for tightly closed tips and firm yet tender stalks (whether thick or thin).Standard varieties of snap beans are ready to be harvested when they are as thick as a pencil and before the seeds bulge and become visible through the pods.When bean pods turn white or yellow, feed them to the pigs or the compost pile.Beets should have smooth, firm flesh, show a rich color, and have healthy green leaves (not wilted).For best flavor in hot weather, keep beets well watered and don’t leave them in the ground so long that they become pithy or woody.Cut the plant about halfway down the stalk to encourage the continual production of side shoots.If your carrot tops break off when you pull them, try loosening the soil first with a digging fork.Ther kernels should be plump and a light milky liquid should ooze out; if it contains water, looks too creamy, or is dry, it’s not good.For best results, pick and shuck corn ears close to the time you want to eat it (or within 72 hours).Look for richly dark glossy green skin and a heavy, firm body and small seeds.Don’t wait too long – bigger is not better in cukes — they’ll taste seedy and bitter.Harvest at 4 to 6 inches in diameter when the skin of the fruit is glossy, smooth, shiny, and unwrinkled.If you cut the eggplant open, it will have a sprinkling of white, immature seeds.They taste most delicate and least bitter when they are still young, before the skins toughen and the seeds mature and darken inside.Harvest mature kale leaves when they are the size of your hand or a little bit bigger.It’s a good idea to hill up the soil around the leek’s base for a longer white section.With leaf lettuce, pick any time, but the leaves are much more tender and flavorful when they are less than five inches long.So, make successive sowings every few weeks for a constant supply of tender young leaves.Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt if your skin gets irritated from okra’s stiff leaf hairs.Take care when picking peppers; use pruning shears or a sharp knife so you don’t break the stems.Potatoes should have a firm body and be heavy for size, without any black or soft spots, sprouts, wrinkles, or greenish tinge.The skin should be full (non-glossy), firm, and rich in color without blemishes or cracks or soft spots.Harvest when the skin is are so hard that it can’t be pierced with a fingernail and the fruits are a deep orange.Keep in mind that pumpkins need to cure in the sunshine for 10 days (or a warm, dry room).It will keep growing for another cutting, but you must harvest before the spinach bolts (sending up a flower stem).Spinach that was left too long in the ground will have oversize leaves and taste bitter.The longer the fruits remain on the vine, the tougher on the outside, seedier and more watery they become on the inside.They should feel firm, heavy for size, and show a bright and healthy skin as well as stem.Avoid dull or hard skin, an oversize body, soft spots, blemishes, and a dry stem.If harvesting, dig when the vines turn yellow and take care to avoid broken roots and bruises.Sweet potatoes need to cure in a warm (80°F to 90°F), shady, well-ventilated place for about 10 days to bring out their flavor and also to bake well.Cured sweet potatoes will keep for up to 6 months when stored at around 60°F with high humidity; a basement is often ideal.The plant will keep producing leaves through the summer, and it can also overwinter in mild areas where the ground does not freeze hard.The perfect tomato for picking will be very rich in color with no trace of green, regardless of size, as well as slightly firm—not hard—when gently squeezed.If frost is predicted, you can pick tomatoes that have turned at least a little green to ripen indoors.They have a firm body, smooth skin, rich color, and crisp leaves that are very green.On the tree, the stem should part readily from the branch when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and given a slight twist around, then up.Look for the plump berries with a uniform black, shiny color with a hint of dullness.Look for the plump, firm berries with a uniform dark blue color with powdery white coating (called bloom).The perfect cantaloupe is heavy, has a fragrant aroma on the blossom end, and makes a hollow sound when thumped.When you harvest melons, leave about an inch of stem attached to fruit to keep it from rotting unless you plan to eat immediately.Look for plump, firm fruit with a glossy, uniform, dark color for the variety and a fragrant aroma.Figs grow perpendicularly out of the branch and will hang down slightly when they are ready to be harvested.Wear gloves and long sleeves while picking figs, as the tree’s sap can irritate the skin.However, start with lemons that are heavy for their size and show a bright yellow color.At their peak, peaches have a golden color and a body that yields easily when gently squeezed.Ripe fruits will come off the tree easily; just give them a slight twist.The berry will be fragrant, plump, fairly firm (not mushy), and show a bright, uniform color.Sometimes it can be hard to know when to harvest a watermelon because they remain firmly attached to the vine even when they’re ripe.The skin should have a dull green cast (not shiny) and be very hard – difficult to pierce with a fingernail. .
Fresh Is Best: When (and How) to Harvest Your Own Healthy Produce
Spinach, for example, retains a wimpy 10 percent of its vitamin C content only 24 hours after being picked!By eating a plant that you harvested from your garden the very same day, you’re ensuring peak freshness, flavor, and nutrition.In honor of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, here are the harvesting best practices for 15 popular plants (listed alphabetically).In fact, regular harvesting not only results in many repeat yields, but also encourages new growth, delaying the bolting and flowering process.Once your basil has developed six to eight pairs of leaves, pinch or cut stem tips just above where the plant is branching.This will promote future branching, creating a bushy, strong plant structure.If production has slowed or you’re simply ready to grow something else, you can harvest an entire basil plant by cutting the stem at its base or pulling the net pot out of your Tower Garden.The upside is that the plant’s edible (and highly nutritious) leaves can be harvested much earlier and incorporated into the same dishes as kale, collards, and other super greens.They should be ready after about a month — just cut them from the main stem, always allowing a few to remain to ensure the plant continues to grow.If you harvest only half the leaves at a time, the same clump of chives will produce multiple yields throughout the growing season.It’s important to cut your chive plants regularly to encourage new bulblets to develop, as well as to prevent leaves from becoming tough and flowers from forming.Most cucumber varieties are mature at eight inches in length, but you can pick them at any size, as long as you don’t allow them to get overripe (i.e., smooth, bloated, and yellow).Check your plants at least twice a week, and harvest frequently to encourage additional fruit to develop.When an eggplant fruit is about half a foot long, cut just above its cap with a knife or shears.As a visual cue, fruit that has lost its glossy sheen or lightened in color is probably past its prime.But as the crop matures, harvests will be more plentiful (until the heat of summer slows the plant’s growth).When the plant’s most mature leaves turn yellow or brown, your green beans will likely stop producing within a few weeks.You should enjoy this crop often, as — like many other plants on this list — frequent harvesting will foster new growth.There are two ways to harvest: You can periodically pick individual leaves, which allows the plant to continue to produce.You should pick parsley throughout the growing season to ensure a continual harvest and prevent a leggy plant structure.Most change color from green to red, yellow, purple, or orange when they’re ripe.It’s perfectly fine to harvest peppers before they reach full maturity — the immature fruit of some varieties are more flavorful.(Jalapeños, for example, are commonly harvested when green, even though they aren’t fully ripe until they turn red.).To harvest, use a knife or shears to make a cut above the cap of the pepper, leaving a portion of the stem attached.Harvest often to encourage continued production, prevent disease, and extend your plant’s life cycle.If you notice signs of bolting (e.g., sudden vertical growth), harvest the entire plant to prevent the remaining leaves from becoming bitter.Everbearing strawberries planted in the spring should start producing fruit by early summer.You should enjoy your harvests as soon as possible because the natural sugar in strawberries converts to starch soon after the fruit is picked.But you can begin harvesting leaves when they are four inches long by cutting leaf stalks near the base.But once you do see fruit, your first clue that a tomato is ripe and ready to pick is its color: It should be a deep red (or yellow or purple, depending on the variety).Otherwise, download the free Tower-to-Table Cookbook (PDF) for ideas on using your fresh, homegrown, healthy produce. .