When and how to harvest your Airgarden plants
So you’ve finally got the hang of growing and planting seedlings into your Airgarden. Like an anxious parent, you’ve watched your seedlings sprout into healthy produce. So proud! So many feels! And within just a few weeks, your precious produce is ready to harvest!
Harvesting is critical for the health of your plants, but the good news is with an Airgarden it’s easy, fast and fun, and you’ll be harvesting meaningful amounts of produce every week. You get to decide how and when to harvest your plants, but there are two techniques we recommend - try them both out and see what works best for you.
The two methods we use to harvest are: ‘whole plant’ and ‘cut and come again’.
Whole plant harvesting is when you completely remove a plant from the Airgarden, in which case it will not grow back. With cut and come again harvesting, you remove a few parts of a plant and leave the rest in the Airgarden to continue growing.
The method you opt for depends on the plant you are harvesting, how you are going to use your harvest, and how much a recipe calls for.
Cut and come again harvesting
Cut and come again is when you harvest part of the plant and leave the rest in the Airgarden to continue growing. This method is perfect if a) you only need to use a little bit of a plant, and b) you are growing lettuces, leafy greens or herbs which can grow for months and yield countless harvests.
This method gives the best ROIs in an Airgarden because, ironically, the more you harvest them, the more they grow. And to think, you were paying $4 for a bunch or coriander at the supermarket!
For this method, follow the below guidelines:
- It’s time to harvest and/or prune once 6–8 pairs of leaves have developed on the plant
- Always remove the largest and oldest leaves - for lettuces, these will be the leaves on the outside of the plant since new growth develops in the centre of the seedling. For herbs and leafy greens, these will typically be the largest leaves that are growing on the seedling.
- Pinch the stem about 1/4 inch above where the plant is branching.
- Keep at 2-3 leaves growing to encourage continued production.
- Repeat every 2-3 days
- When the plant flowers, this is the end of its lifetime and it needs to be removed and replaced with a fresh seedling
Whole plant harvesting
Whole plant harvesting is when you completely remove a plant from the Airgarden, including the grow medium and root system. This method is ideal when you need a large amount of a plant or are harvesting a plant that will only give you one harvest, like cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants or cauliflower (most vegetables outside of leafy greens require whole plant harvesting).
For this method, remove the seedling by grabbing the grow cup instead of any stems or leaves. This will prevent damage to the plant. You can then cut off the roots and remove the grow plug from the grow cup. Grow cups are reusable so they should not be thrown away.
We recommend leaving plants in the Airgarden until you need to use them. This keeps them fresh, maintains their nutrient density, and prevents any food wastage. But if you need to harvest and store your plants, here’s how to keep them fresh:
- For whole plants: place the entire grow plug and roots in a dish with some water and store in the fridge
- For lettuces and leafy greens: wash leaves and wrap them in a damp paper towel, cloth, or produce bag and store in the fridge
The timeframe for replacing seedlings will depend on the growing environment and type of plant, but typically plants should be removed from the Airgarden after 8-12 weeks. Older seedlings are more susceptible to pests and disease which may spread to younger seedlings. Their large root systems can also block or divert water from other plants.
Plants may also bolt if they have been growing for too long - you can read more about bolting here.
For instructions on when and how to prune your plants, click here.