May 2, 2019
You watered them, you’ve loved them, you’ve posted their photos - now it’s time to eat! Here are a few tips for making the most of your harvest.
For the most part, when you harvest your crops is up to you. Leafy greens can be harvested at any stage. An early harvest means sweet, tender leaves, but if you let the plant grow longer, it will grow bigger and you’ll find it probably has a bolder flavor. It’s your Farmstand, so you choose the harvest stage suited for your schedule and what you’re cooking. Just be careful to harvest before the plant bolts - bolting is when the plant begins to flower in order to reproduce, and you want to eat it before this happens as this phase makes the plant taste bitter. With some plants, like tomatoes and broccoli, the harvesting time is less flexible. Tomatoes should be harvested once they have turned red, but they can be picked a little under ripe (when they’re more pink than red) and brought inside to continue ripening on a countertop or windowsill. Broccoli can be harvested once you see a head or floret. The head will grow bigger over time, but if you leave it for too long it will flower.
You can harvest using two different methods, depending on the plant. With “cut and come again” crops, you can harvest the more mature leaves and leave the smaller, younger leaves to allow more time for growth.
Almost anything on your farmstand can be partially harvested, but herbs are great plants to use as an example. You may not want an entire oregano plant in your recipe, so trimming a few leaves is the way to go. When doing a partial harvest, the general trick is to harvest the older, outer leaves of the plant using scissors, while leaving at least half of the plant intact so it can continue to grow. Wait at least one week before harvesting again. After 2-3 cuttings (or 4-5 cuttings for herbs), we recommend harvesting the full plant and planting a new seedling to take its place. This helps cut down on maintenance from overgrown roots.
Other plants will require complete removal of the plant to harvest. The Lettuce Grow Farmstand is designed for easy removal of plants with their roots still intact. Just pull out the basket containing the plant you wish to harvest and leave the roots intact to store - they’ll continue to hydrate the harvested plant and keep it fresh for longer.
If you can, leave crops on the Farmstand until you’re ready to eat them and eliminate storage altogether. If the plants are ready to be harvested before you’re ready to eat them or if you need to make room for more seedlings, proper storage will keep your crops fresh. Store all leafy greens loosely wrapped in the refrigerator. Tomatoes are best stored on a windowsill or in a cool spot on the counter - they’ll lose flavor and get mealy in the fridge. Herbs can be stored in a glass or vase of fresh water like a bouquet.
You won’t need to give your produce more than a quick rinse right before you cook it or eat it (not when you harvest it).