Good Gardening: Repeat Harvest

Nov 5, 2018

Coming back for a second harvest.
Credit John Fischer

For many vegetables, harvest is a one day affair.  The carrot is either in the ground, or on the table.  And once you've picked the carrot, it won't grow back again.

Other vegetables can be harvested repeatedly.  Green beans keep producing until frost kills the plant, or you get sick of those overwhelmingly productive garden regulars. And the list of vegetables willing to make an encore at the table seems to be growing as our formerly wet cool fall turns into a warm extension of summer.

Broccoli has always been my favorite fairy tale vegetable.  You cut off the main head, and five new ones grow in its place.  The first harvest is only a small part of the plants total production.  Broccoli planted in March can produce until March of the next year- if you leave it in the ground.

Credit John Fischer

After years of telling people that cauliflower was a one harvest crop, I now suggest leaving the plants in and hoping for a fall harvest.  I just made cauliflower cheese soup from second heads on the spring plants.

After picking a big summer cabbage, the bottom of the plant will produce three to five "individual serving" sized heads in a circle around where the first head was cut off.  It's cool enough to make sauerkraut again.  I'll use those second harvest cabbages.

Sorrel is a perennial vegetable.  A little goes a long ways in soups or salads. The tender leaves of spring are back- urged into production by our warm dry fall weather.

Don't pick the full heads of your fall greens and lettuce.  Instead, pluck a few leaves here and there so you- and the slugs- can enjoy salads between rainstorms.

Credit John Fischer

So if you're cleaning up your garden this fall, or already thinking of where to plant things next year, remember that many crops can give you a second harvest-- if you leave them in the ground.