How Food Grows: Harvesting

Part 12: Harvesting

Even if this is your first time harvesting, this can be something that is quite intuitive.  This could be old memories of you as a child harvesting with your family or maybe it’s even part of our DNA going back to our ‘hunter, gatherer’ selves. While harvesting may seem simple (and for the most part it can be) there are some key tips to keep in mind before you start harvesting


Spinach & Chard

  • If spacing is becoming an issue harvest some middle plants early to give the rest of them enough room to continue to grow.
  • If you only require a few cut the outer leaves off as needed.
  • If you want to harvest the entire plant cut from the base with a knife leaving about an inch behind so that they will continue to grow.

Salad Leaves

  • Cut salad leaves down to the base for harvest. You can choose whether to leave them to see if they will grow back or you can dig them up and sow a fresh row,  the choice is yours!


  • If your beets are still small harvest them now as baby beets or leave them in the ground for another few weeks.
  • Once you have taken it out of the ground twist off the foliage to stop the beetroot from bleeding.

French Beans

  • Keep picking veg for continuous growth.


  • Snap the leaves on the stem from the bottom up to encourage your plant to grow taller and produce more leaves.


  • Cut leaves off for harvest.


  • Can harvest before peas develop and eat as peas shoots or wait until they have formed


  • Try to use a garden fork or sickle to get the carrots out as pulling may cause them to break.
  • Baby carrots will usually be ready in 12 weeks wait a few more months if you want them to grow on

Top Tips

  • All parts of spinach and chard are edible – you can use the stalks to make a delicious stir fry!
  • If you have any leaves that are not growing (it happens to the best of us) remove the plants and use for composting.
  • You can leave your carrots in the beds until November time as the first frost will make the carrots sweeter when harvesting.
  • Beetroot leaves are edible if you are harvesting early.

Helpful Resources is grateful for the support of our Growth Fund partners Social Innovation Fund Ireland and The Department of Rural & Community Development, whose funding has enabled us to promote and disseminate this online course, engaging thousands of people in How Food Grows.​