The Garden at 485 Elm
People growing together:
a collaborative community garden in Montpelier, Vermont

It’s food, beautiful food

Maturity came early to French sorrel, chives, Good King Henry, and a few other perennial and self-seeding plants. Suddenly, the garden is bursting with fresh food.

With nearly twenty gardeners’ households harvesting crops, how do we share the food? When everyone grows one huge garden together, instead of individual gardeners each duplicating the same set of crops from one bed to the next, there’s more food for everyone. The key? Harvest so plants keep producing.

This bed of oregano and thyme has been producing delicious aromatic herbs that have been coming back since our first season in 2014. Every season, we do harvesting orientations in the garden. Even gardeners who have been here since the beginning learn more every time and feel more confident sharing techniques and practices with other gardeners.
Lettuces are exploding with color and deliciousness. We’ll continue harvesting this red lettuce from Sow Right Seeds for weeks and weeks. For salad greens and hardy leafy greens, we pinch off only outer leaves, retaining a core of healthy leaves on each plant. Just as they start to bolt, or go to seed, only then do we pull the entire plant. Pulling plants that are going by and preparing their beds for replanting is a garden task with a tasty side effect: The gardeners who do it can take home the food and share it with whoever’s in the garden that day.
Look at this healthy, happy bed of baby choi grown from Burpee seed. It’s at peak tender deliciousness, ready for gardeners to harvest.

About that harvesting technique: Here’s how to do it and how not to do it. On the left is baby choi—a tender, tasty Asian green—that’s had its center leaves pulled. That reduces the lifespan and productivity of the leafy greens we all share. Note that the baby choi plant on the right has had it’s outer leaves pinched off, leaving a healthy core. That technique works to increase the health, lifespan, and productivity of lettuces, kale, cabbages like baby choi, and so many other plants we share here.

These moderately spicy mustard greens from High Mowing Organic Seeds get harvested the same way. Pinching the outer leaves will create space between the plants, helping them thrive. Harvesting is a garden task to help the plants as well as a food source for gardeners.
These beautiful mild mustard greens from High Mowing Seeds get harvested a little differently. To harvest them, we use scissors to snip them off the top, giving them a little haircut. This delays their flowering, or bolting, which will make them less appealing to eat.
Thoughts of preserving the harvest are a long way off when dinner looks like this.