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How to Pick Garden Greens

By Leigh Walker ; Updated September 21, 2017

The term "garden greens" is very broad and it includes most leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, turnip greens, spinach and mustard greens. Garden greens are generally picked in the spring and fall. Harvesting is done by picking individual leaves or by cutting off the entire head of the plant. Leaves are picked throughout the season while the plant is still young and producing new leaves. Whole heads are usually picked at the close of the growing season.

Picking Individual Leaves of Garden Greens

Examine the leaves of your garden greens and look for any damaged or discolored leaves. Use a knife to cut these leaves off at their base. Discard the leaves.

Identify the largest leaves on the plant as these will be the most mature. Grasp the leaves with one hand and use a knife with your other hand to slice the leaves off the plant. Avoid sawing through the leaves. Use a single, quick cut to remove the leaves at their base.

Place the green leaves in a bucket or bag while you continue your harvesting.

Picking Whole Heads of Garden Greens

Remove the dirt around the plant’s base with a hoe.

Look at the plant’s base to locate the head of the plant. There will be a taproot extending out of the head that runs into the ground.

Use either a knife or the edge of the hoe to cut through the taproot.

Lift the green head from the soil and place it in a bucket or bag while you continue your harvesting.


Things You Will Need

  • Knife
  • Garden hoe
  • Bag or bucket


  • Run the leaves of garden greens under cold water to remove dirt. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Peel the leaves off of the head of your garden greens and discard any leaves that are damaged or discolored. Wash the healthy leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Store your garden greens in your refrigerator.

About the Author


Leigh Walker has been working as a writer since 1995. She serves as a ghostwriter for many online clients creating website content, e-books and newsletters. She works as a title flagger and writer for Demand Studios, primarily writing home and garden pieces for GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. Walker pursued an English major/psychology minor at Pellissippi State.