Harvest - lettuce, arugula, chard, kale
Collecting Leaves for an Herbarium
Planting Summer Lettuces
- Explore visual clues that help you decide if a vegetable is ready for harvest.
- Collect leaves from each plant in the food garden for a herbarium.
- Become more familiar with vegetables we might eat.
- seeds of summer lettuces
- hand cultivators
- bowls or colanders for gathering the harvest, 2 or more
- scissors for harvesting
- cardboard, 8 1/2 by 11 or larger, 10 pieces or more as needed
- heavy books or other heavy objects that can be used to add weight for leaf pressing
- Ziploc bags or paper bags to pack the harvest, 1 per child
- watering can
- Set out garden tools.
- Depending on the number or children, decide how to divide the students into two or more working groups. (You will need one adult to supervise each group.) It is important that the children have some space to move around when they are engaged in the garden, especially when they are using sharp tools. If your group is too large to have half of the students working in the garden at the same time, try pairing the children up: Each pair shares a tool and takes turns using it.
- Review harvesting techniques with all instructors as needed.
- Review the steps for leaf pressing. Identify an appropriate place where the leaf press can be stored for two weeks or so.
Allow a few minutes time for independent investigation and brainstorming.
Then visit each type of vegetable or herb with the group.
With each one, ask the children to try and identify the plant.
Then focus the discussion around the edible parts of different plants (roots, stems, leaves, fruit, seeds)
Discuss visual clues that help a gardener decide whether a vegetable is ready to harvest.
- The roots.
- Roots support the plant in the ground and take in water and minerals from the soil.
- They are chubby and their tops are starting to push out of the ground
- The flower.
- The flower makes the seeds and develops into a fruit.
- The leaves and leaf stems.
- Leaves take in sunlight and air and make sugars for the plant.
- The stem supports the leaves and flowers and carries water and minerals up to the leaves.
Gardeners commonly harvest larger somewhat older leaves rather than the newest tiniest leaves.
- They will get larger.
- The older leaves may get tough and may not be as tasty.
- The fruit (with its seeds inside)
- The fruit holds the seeds.
- The seed holds a new plant inside.
- Size, color
What is a fruit anyway?
A discussion about what a fruit is may arise. A fruit is the part of the plant that holds the seeds.
Sometimes it is sweet like a cherry, an apple, or a peach, but it doesn't have to be sweet. A fruit
can also be something we mostly think of as a "vegetable" like a cucumber, a pepper, or a tomato.
If it holds a plant's seeds, it's a fruit!
Start a Herbarium Collection
- We can write it down. We can also collect leaves, press and dry them, and gather them in a plant journal. This is called a Herbarium.
HALF GROUP GATHERS LEAVES FOR HERBARIUM WHILE THE OTHER HALF HARVESTS. THEN SWITCH ACTIVITIES
Gather leaves for pressing
- Partner each adult with a group of 3 or 4 children.
- Hand each adult a pair of scissors.
- Each group reviews safe tool handling: Hold scissors with the sharp end down. Don't run with scissors in your hand.
- Assign each group an area where they will collect leaf samples.
- Each adult demonstrates leaf cutting technique. Use both hands: Hold the leaf with one hand. Hold the scissors in the other hand and snip.
- Choose and cut leaf samples from the different plants. Collect leaves in ziplock bags.
Adults and children work in teams. Adults demonstrate the appropriate harvesting technique for a vegetable and then assist children as needed. Review the technique (and safe tool use)
For harvesting tips for specific vegetables link to
- Gather in a circle. Each group highlights one or two interesting leaves that they found.
- Demonstrate the procedure: Put down a piece of cardboard, cover it with 2 sheets of newsprint, spread
a few leaves on top. Flatten the leaves as much as possible. Don't overlap leaves. Cover with 2 sheets
of newsprint, and then cover with cardboard. Continue adding to the stack: Put 2 sheets of newsprint
on top of the cardboard, spread leaves on top. Cover with 2 sheets of newsprint, cover with cardboard...
Continue until all the leaves have been used up.
- Adults work with children to compile stacks, keeping each one to a manageable height.
- Put the stacks in a dry place. Weight them down with a few heavy books. Allow at least 2 weeks
drying time. Check on the leaves every few days. Discard any leaves that have gone moldy.
If there's space available in the garden, start seeding summer lettuces. In time, they will take the place of the cool-season salad greens planted in spring (See Video)