Cut and Come Again
Cut and come again vegetables are ideal crops for beginning gardeners, for gardeners with little time for gardening, and for gardeners with limited space.
Cut and come again vegetables have been around forever, but the term Cut and Come Again has drawn new interest to these easy to grow vegetables. There are many advantages to this type of crop.
- Most cut and come agains are very easy to grow, ideal for beginners.
- Plant once and harvest over and over, eliminating time for succession planting.
- No need for succession planting reduces space required for season long harvests.
As the term would indicate, you can cut your crop and it will come again. But hold on, don’t just whack down a cut and come again plant and expect it to reproduce. It is almost that simple, but not quite.
ROSETTE FORM CUT AND COME AGAIN
This plant form is what gardeners are most familiar with as cut and come again vegetables. Many salad greens grow in a circular rosette form. As the outer leaves mature and are harvested, the inner leaves continue to mature and additional leaves continue to develop from the center of the rosette. This can continue perhaps three or four times through one growing season if the center growth point is not removed, damaged by heat, and receives adequate moisture and fertilizer throughout the growing season. For quick harvests in large beds, just cut a handful at a time an inch or more above the crown with garden shears. But to keep each plant producing well, only harvest up to a third of each plant at a time. You may want to harvest only the largest outer leaves, allowing the smaller centers to fully develop.
Because you will be continuously harvesting, your cut and come again greens can be planted more closely together than suggested. All the plants will not reach maturity before beginning harvest, so they won’t need as much room. To make the most of your cut and come again crops, plant rows or blocks two or three weeks apart. Something will always be ready to harvest. But keep in mind than many of these plants are cool season vegetables and will bolt in the heat of summer. Start your first crop early in the season and a second crop to harvest in autumn.
- Chinese Cabbage
- Leaf Lettuce
- Mesclun Mix
- Mustard Greens
CLUMP FORM CUT AND COME AGAIN
Clump form cut and some again vegetables are harvested by snipping or pinching the tips or a substantial portion of the top growth. Many herbs grow in clumps and will continue to produce after cutting tips or portions of the clump. The tips should be regularly shorn off to prevent seed production, which will end harvesting.
- Chives – cut as needed down to the plant base
- Basil – pinch off as needed to a set of leaves
- Oregano – cut up to 2/3 of a stalk
- Marjoram– cut up to 2/3 of a stalk
- Thyme – snip 4-6 inches
- Cilantro – cut largest outer leaves to the plant base
- Parsley – cut leaf stalks down to the base of the clump
- Sage pinch of leaves as needed
- Rosemary – snip 4-6 inches
- Dill – is not actually cut and come again, but self seeds rapidly producing a continual supply
There are a few other vegetables that are considered cut and come again, however successive harvests are typically not as bountiful as the first cutting:
- Broccoli – after the primary head is harvested, small heads will be produced on side shoots along the stem.
- Fennel – several plants often develop from the bulb. Cut the large one and allow the small ones to finish maturing.
- Spring Onions and Scallions – harvest these leaving about an inch at the base with the roots, leaving the roots in the ground. Additional onions will often grow.
Remember to always use clean sharp tools when harvesting cut and come again crops. Plants damaged with dull shears or infected by dirty blades will not continue production well.
And don’t forget about perennial herbs and vegetables, which also produce a continual supply.