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Snippet of Encyclopedia Botanica Episode 107: Cut and Come Again Harvesting with Colin McCrate

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Last Played: December 15, 2021
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Listen now to an Audio Snippet of the “Cut and Come Again Harvesting with Colin McCrate” podcast as Encyclopedia Botanica breaks down the technique to help you make the most of your bounty.

A weekly podcast about edible gardening.
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the first one we're gonna talk about today is called Cut and come again. Harvesting. Yes. So this is one of my favorite sort of like harvesting and methodologies on, but also kind of is a planting methodology. So cut and come again is a way of harvesting a crop that you plant the crop it grows. When it's at its mature size, you cut it down. You know, usually you're using either a knife or scissors. Um, and then you wait for it to regrow, and sometimes you can get two or three cuttings off of one planting. So probably the most common examples would be baby lettuce mix. If you're planting baby lettuce mix, you go out and usually your direct seeding it into the garden. So you direct seat a little row. You wait maybe a month or a month and a half later. The planting is, you know, 6 to 8 inches tall. You go out there with a nice, sharp knife, and you kind of just saw off the plants told, Or is that just like a tiny stub? You know, maybe a half an inch inch stub above the top of the soil. You eat that salad, and then within a couple weeks the plants have grown a new flush of leaves, and you could go out and use your knife and mo those down. Have another salad on def. You time that properly you'll get really nice quality leaves off of those separate cuttings. However, if you let the plant sit in the garden too long and say before you cut it the first time it grows and it's 12 inches tall and it starts to get really stem me, um, the plants will be more bitter, and so you might still want to eat them because, you know, you grew the lettuce and you're like, Well, this is a little bit bitter, but I'll dress my salad, whatever. But then you cut it down, and the next time it grows, it'll be stem easier and more bitter more quickly because you've kind of allowed the plant to get into its bolting phase, where it's, you know, trying to use this energy to send up flower stocks, and that will happen more quickly every time. So the key with cut and come again is to harvest your crops when they're at kind of like the perfect size for consumption because that will actually allow you to get a better crop the second time. And then if you harvest that when it's at the perfect size, you may even be able to get a third cutting off of it and whether or not you could get a third cutting off of salad mix will depend a lot on the season and the weather s O, that there's no guarantee in that. But getting to cuttings off of a planting a baby lettuce mixes is really common, and clearly the directive to harvest your cut and come again crops when they're at the quote. Perfect size for consumption is pretty subjective. But I think what Collins trying to say there is just try to harvest them when they're still pretty small. I like to look for supple leaves. Um, they do. You know that your leaves do start to get a little bit more woody, and that is sort of a sign of them starting toe turn. And it's also never a bad idea to reference your seed packet, because if you are sowing seeds that are meant to be grown as cutting greens as like, you know, baby cutting greens, They will give you a days to maturity for the right kind of cutting size. Yeah, totally. I mean, I think the key takeaways for cut and come again are one just planning for it. So, like, you talk a lot about on this podcast, if you're growing salad mix, plant a little bit of the time and plant it every two weeks so that when one crop is getting exhausted, you have another fresh new crop coming up. Um, but to just know that, you know, I'm going to cut this down and leave it in the ground for two more weeks and see what my second cutting looks like. And hopefully that will be good. And if I really feel lucky, I'm just gonna leave it in for another couple weeks and see if I could get a third cutting off of it. In addition to let us, you know, I wanted to just throw in cilantro because that's for sure in our garden, the crop that we grow this way most commonly just because, you know, I think we're both obsessed with eating cilantro and cilantro is one of these crops that bolts really quickly. Um, so it's actually, you know, you'll plant cilantro in the garden will come about beautiful leaves, and within a couple of days, if you don't harvest it, that will start to bolt. So many people get frustrated growing cilantro because I think it just bolts too quickly, which it probably does. But there's nothing you can do about that. So you want to just get out there, and as soon as it looks like it's, you know, six inches tall before it starts to get stemming, just cut it down. And what I tell people a lot is even if you don't think you can eat all the cilantro, you probably just want a harvest, all of it, because if you end up composting, some of it, um, you're still at that point letting those plants regrow, because if you leave a bunch of that plant matter out there, it'll just bolt. In the meantime, while you're working through the stuff that you did cut so it might actually provide you with more harvest. If you cut all of it down, put it in the fridge, eat what you can let it regrow, and then have that second cutting rather than just sort of slowly picking at it and letting it bolt and then not being able to get a good second cutting off of it. Yeah, And during the summer months, that cycle happens more quickly than during the cooler months. So you kinda have toe pick up the pace if you want to stay on top of it during the summer months.
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