I like to get the most “bang for my buck” whenever I can. As much as I love to garden, I don’t have time to refresh my plantings as often as I like, so whenever I can extend my harvest without having to start over, I’m good.
Many gardening sources will advise you to make “successive plantings” to help prolong your harvest of produce. What this means is that you should plant a few seeds/transplants, then a couple of weeks later plant some more, then a couple of weeks later…. wash, rinse, repeat.
The idea is to stagger your harvest over a period of time so that you have a continuous supply. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I do have a few problems with it.
- It requires me to have the time to go back out and do again what I just did a couple of weeks ago, when I really need to get to the next task on my to-do list, instead.
- It will mean having less produce available at a time, which could mean I may be left with not enough to be useful at any given time.
- Depending on transplant/germination success rates, you may find yourself with far fewer plants than expected and are now “behind” in timing and need to catch up because you don’t have as many plants as you planned on.
So instead I focus on planting what I want all at once. This gives me the opportunity to fill in any plants that don’t make it, and still have a decent sized harvest when the time comes. If I have bigger harvests than I can use at the time, then I look into various long term storage methods to enjoy my harvest throughout the year (that’s a good thing!).
The cut-and-come-again method allows for you to harvest when the time is right, while leaving the plants in the ground to continue growing more to harvest later. You could harvest as much or as little as you want and can process. It also gives an opportunity to thoroughly check on the health of your plants and deal with any pests, hopefully before they become a real problem.
Most leafy greens like spinach, chard, and lettuces grow new leaves from the center of the plant. By cutting the older leaves from the outside, you leave those baby leaves to grow. The little leaves left behind will actually get a chance to grow faster because the plant now no longer has to use energy and nutrients maintaining the older leaves and can put all its effort into young leaves.
You will want to get rid of all the outer leaves, even if they are not ones you want to eat. This again saves energy to develop new leaves, and gives you a chance to get rid of hiding places and breeding grounds for pests you don’t want. Keep in mind that your newly exposed soil may need some fresh mulch to protect the soil from drying out in the sun.
Cleaning your harvest can be made much easier by having an outdoor station. You do want to avoid having chunky dirt go down indoor plumbing as much as possible. Proper storage of leafy greens allows you to enjoy your fresh harvest for a longer time. Before you know it, your plants will produce a fresh batch of greens for you to enjoy!