Harvest Fun for Little Gardeners

There is no specific way to harvest. Each plant and flower has a certain way that it can be harvested. Sometimes many harvests can be had, such as with lettuce. Here are some common ideas for harvesting.

Lettuce
Most lettuce can be cut throughout the season. Have the kids pretend they are rabbits hopping along. They notice the lettuce patch and hop on over to the patch.

Tell the kids that while rabbits eat lettuce at their leisure, happily nibbling here and there, the pretend rabbits are going to cut the lettuce either with shears, a sharp knife or scissors. As pretend rabbits, they can also just pluck off the outer leaves so that the rest can continue growing the rest of the season.

Wash the lettuce and eat it as soon as possible for best flavor. Most lettuces will last at least a few days in a bag in the refrigerator.

Squash and Zucchini
Pick the squash and zucchini when they are small and there will be much more during the season. The smaller ones tend to have less thick skins and are less tough as well.

Kids will certainly enjoy that squash and zucchini are very prolific growers. One plant can yield a huge production for the season if the growing conditions are good.

Consider making zucchini bread and giving away some of the produce to needy neighbors or community organizations to lessen the burden of having too much squash.

Squash also have a good storage time in a cooler kitchen area.

Radishes
Radishes are done when you start to see the bulb above the surface. The most common radishes don't take very long to complete their cycle. That is why most kids enjoy watching them grow, especially younger kids.

Harvest them, pluck them from the ground and wash them immediately. Leaving the greens on them until right before use is best.

Carrots
It's harder to tell if carrots are ready simply because the shoulders could be sticking out while the root is still not very long.

Pretend you are a famous rabbit who eats carrots while you pick them. You can also pick baby carrots, which are tender and usually very sweet.

Carrots often come in colors other than the typical orange. They also come in many different sizes. Use this time to explain about the many different carrots there are. .

Store carrots in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator. Storing them in a container filled with a clean, sandy dirt in a cooler basement has its advantages too. Some carrots will store well in the ground throughout winter if enough mulch is placed over them.

Peppers
There are many many different types of peppers, ranging from ornamental to sweet to hot.

Ornamentals are generally not picked, but many are edible. Harvesting them varies from plant to plant. Most ornamentals range in color, so harvest them according to the kids tastes in colors if need be.

Bell peppers can be green, red, yellow, purple, brown, blushing, white or orange. Most start in the green stage and progress slowly into the other stages of colors. Harvest peppers when they are the favorite color and make sure you snap and twist them or cut them with a knife to avoid damage to the rest of the plant.

Hot peppers are much like bell peppers in their range of colors. They tend to take longer to mature. Generally speaking, the colored varieties other than green are hotter.

Store peppers in the refrigerator, preferably in the crisper. A bag will also do.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are fun to harvest, especially cherry tomatoes. If your kids are really into tomatoes then harvest the cherry tomatoes and eat some while you harvest them. There are a lot of products with tomatoes in them, so have a discussion with your kids about things that tomatoes are used in.

Tomatoes can be canned or eaten as they are. Storing tomatoes at room temperature is best because cold can kill the lovely taste of a tomato.

There are many types of tomatoes. Some can be harvested at the green stage for fried green tomatoesor salsa. Cherry tomatoes are good in salads and can be roasted for fun little snacks. Put some cheese on them and they are good to go. The bigger tomato types can be used in sandwiches or cut up in your kids' favorite pasta dish. Show the kids how to make their own pasta sauce with freshly harvested tomatoes, and the kids' love for tomatoes will grow.

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