How To: Harvest From Your Spring Garden

Memphis gardens have been planted and are in full swing as the end of the school year quickly approaches! This season, our schools tried out themed gardens for the first time.

Spring Salad Garden: lettuce, mustard greens, and borage
Root Veggie Garden: carrots, beets, turnips, radish
Plant Parts Garden: kale, fennel, nasturtium, Swiss chard, cilantro, radish
Lifecycle & Herb Garden: mint, milkweed, basil, rosemary
*Some schools may also have sage and garlic from past seasons.

Below is the harvesting information for each of our spring plants! Here are a few notes as you gear up to go outside!

  1. Make sure to visit our Harvesting Your Learning Garden section of the website for information on how to create a Harvest Kit, information on food safety, and ideas for what to do with your produce. We also have helpful videos in English and Spanish that you can share with your classes.
  2. Submit your harvest data for a chance to win a Tasting Kit that includes everything you will need to prepare recipes in the classroom!

Happy harvesting!

Baby Lettuce Harvest Window: May 1 – May 20 (Salad Garden) Snip or pinch outer leaves at their stems as they grow to a harvestable size (3 – 5 inches). Do not pull upwards and uproot the plant during harvest. Once leaves have been harvested, continue to care for plants in order to grow more leaves for a second or third harvest.

Beets Harvest Window: May 1 – May 20 (Root Veggie Garden) Pull the entire plant out of the ground to harvest. Harvest when top of beet root reaches 1 – 2 inches in diameter. Harvest beets before they bolt (stems begin to grow vertically to produce flowers).

Borage Harvest Window: May 1 – May 20 (Salad Garden) Pluck individual flowers from borage plant. Harvesting flowers will promote the production of more flowers.

Carrots Harvest Window: May 1 – May 20 (Root Veggie Garden) Pull roots at 3/4- 1 1/2 inch diameter by pulling plants out of the ground by hand. If carrots will not come out easily, dig a shovel or trowel straight down a few inches from the carrot and wiggle shovel back and forth to loosen roots. Carrots can be harvested when slightly small if necessary.

Cilantro Harvest Window: April 25 – May 20 (Plant Parts Garden) Snap or Snip leaves as they grow to several inches in length. Cilantro will produce leaves consistently until it ‘bolts’, or goes to seed.

Fennel Harvest Window: May 15 – June 15 (Lifecycle & Herb Garden) Cut the base of the fennel bulb at the soil surface with strong scissors or a knife. Fennel is ready to harvest when the bulb has grown to 2-3 inches in diameter. Bulbs will continue to grow, but can become tougher with age. Leave the fennel roots in the ground and they will produce more small bulbs.

Garlic Harvest Window: May 20 – June 30 (Garlic Garden) Pull garlic bulb when bottom half of leaves turn brown. To harvest, pull the entire plant from the ground. If plant is not pulling from the soil easily, dig straight down into the soil several inches away from the bulb and pull back to lift and loosen the soil. Be sure not to dig into your garlic bulb. If you planted hardneck variety of garlic, expect to harvest garlic scapes in early April, but leave the bulb in the ground until early summer. Harvest garlic scapes by snapping the scape at it’s base when the top has curled into a full loop.

Kale Harvest Window: May – September (Plant Parts Garden) Snap or snip outer leaves as they attain a suitable size (5 – 10 inches) Kale will produce leaves consistently throughout the growing season until very cold temperatures in late fall or winter.

Mustard Greens Harvest Window: May 1 – May 20 (Salad Garden) Snip or pinch outer leaves at their stems as they grow to a harvestable size (3 -5 inches). Be sure not to pull upwards and uproot the plant during harvest. Be aware that these plants will continue to produce more leaves, so harvest leaves as they grow to be the correct size! Harvest arugula plants before they bolt (stems begin to grow vertically to produce flowers).

Nasturtium Harvest Window: May – September (Plant Parts Garden) Pluck flowers as they open to their most beautiful and open point. Be sure to check for bugs as many will hide inside the flower and flower petals!

Perennial Herbs Harvest Window: April 1 – End of Season (Lifecycle & Herb Garden) Includes basil, mint, rosemary, and sage. Pinch off leaves by hand, or for larger harvests cut stems with clippers. Fresh herb leaves can be harvested as they grow. Harvest the top ⅓ of plant or only the leafy tips to encourage new growth.

Radishes Harvest Window: April 20 – May 20 (Plant Parts Garden and Root Veggie Garden) Pull the entire plant out of the ground to harvest. Harvest when top of radish root reaches 1 inch in diameter. Harvest spring radishes before hot summer weather. Harvest radishes before they bolt (stems begin to grow vertically to produce flowers).

Swiss Chard Harvest Window: May – September (Plant Parts Garden) Snap or snip outer leaves as they attain a suitable size (5 – 10 inches) Chard will produce leaves consistently throughout the growing season until very cold temperatures in late fall.

Turnips Harvest Window: May (Root Veggie Garden) Pull the entire plant out of the ground to harvest. Harvest when top of turnip root reaches 1-2 inches in diameter. Harvest turnips before they bolt (stems begin to grow vertically to produce flowers).