How To Harvest your Hydroponic Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide

Hydroponics is a type of agriculture that grows plants in water instead of soil. There are many benefits to growing plants using hydroponics, including faster growth rates and easier access to nutrients. However, one of the main advantages of hydroponic gardening is that it takes up much less space than traditional soil-based growing methods. Thus, if you’re considering adding hydroponic plants to your home or business as an alternative means of producing food, it’s essential to understand how to harvest hydroponic plants. 

Once you know what materials you need and how much time you have for maintenance, this step-by-step guide will help you understand how to harvest hydroponic lettuce from aerogarden. You will also learn how to harvest herbs from aerogarden, when to harvest basil aerogarden, and how and why to prevent aerogarden basil flowering. Keep reading to learn more!

What You’ll Need

There is some variation in harvesting hydroponic plants depending on the specific growing method you use, but there are some materials that are almost universally applicable. 

- Gardening Gloves

No matter which method you choose, you’ll need to protect your hands with gardening gloves. It will help reduce the risk of any cuts or abrasions when handling your plants. Additionally, gardening gloves can be helpful when harvesting hydroponic plants because they can be a barrier against any potential contaminants on your plants or harvesting tools.

 - Shears/Scissors

If you’re using a method that involves cutting the stem of your plants, you’ll need a pair of shears or scissors on hand. Depending on the size of your plants, a couple of small scissors, like these herb snips, may be sufficient for minor cuts, while larger plants may require a pair of large shears like these pruning scissors.

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 - A bucket or water-resistant container 

You’ll need this to hold the harvested plants so you can transport them to your kitchen or indoor garden for cleaning and eating. Using a water-resistant container is best to avoid having the plants get water inside of it.

 - A tarp or cloth 

They will make transporting the harvested plants easier.

 - A spray bottle 

You may want to use a spray bottle to water the plants slightly before harvesting them. It will help loosen up the roots and make them easier to remove. 

- Something to mark the date or plant type 

It’s important to keep track of when and what you harvest. You may want to use a marker or notebook to write this down.

Harvesting Basics

Before you jump in and start harvesting plants, it’s a good idea to understand how hydroponic plants grow. It will help you know the best times to harvest your plants and the best method of harvesting. So, let’s start with the basics. 

The main difference between hydroponic and soil-based growing is that hydroponic plants are grown with their roots directly in water enriched with essential nutrients that the plant can “feed.” It allows for faster growth than soil-based growing since the plant’s roots don’t have to travel to the surface to access nutrients.

Before harvesting your plants, you should keep a few things in mind.

  • You must ensure the plants are ready to harvest
  • You want to make sure to harvest everything on the plant. 

If you leave some behind, it could cause the plant to become diseased and could even kill it.

  • You want to avoid damaging the roots as much as possible when harvesting

Damaged roots can make your plants less healthy, and you may want to wait to harvest certain plants until they become more vital.

Step 1: Identify Which Plants To Harvest

Before harvesting the plants, you must identify which ones you want to pick. You can either look at each plant individually or mark the containers with a marker to indicate which plants they contain. Then, you can either select the plants you want to harvest or remove the whole container from the hydroponic system.

Knowing the best times to harvest your plants will help ensure that you get the highest yield from your hydroponic garden. Please pay attention to your plants as they grow and look for the signs that they’re ready to be harvested. 

- Harvest lettuce when the leaves are about an inch wide. Smaller leaves are crispier, while larger leaves are more bitter. 

- Harvest kale and other greens when their leaves are about a foot long. - Harvest Swiss chard when the leaves are about 12 inches long. 

- Harvest Asian greens when the leaves are about 2 inches wide. 

- Harvest peas when the pods are full and round. 

- Harvest beans when the pods are about 4 or 5 inches long. 

- Harvest squash when the skin is glossy, and the stem is firm. 

- Harvest melons when the fruit feels full and heavy. 

- Harvest tomatoes when the fruit feels heavy and has a slight yellow tint on the skin. 

- Harvest peppers when the peppers are whole, firm, and have a bright green color. 

 Step 2: Determine When To Harvest

Certain plants will be ready to harvest at different times. Some plants, like lettuce and herbs, can be harvested multiple times, while others, like tomatoes, are only ready to harvest once. You can use a harvesting chart to determine when to harvest each type of plant. If your herbs start to ‘bolt,’ meaning they produce flowers, snip off the flowers and allow them to continue growing. When these plants flower, they usually lose some flavors, so snip off the flowers and harvest frequently. 

When to harvest basil aerogarden will depend on the variety you choose. Basil varieties with flowers, such as the Genovese or Purple Ruffles, will be ready to harvest sooner. Harvest basil aerogarden when the flowers are just beginning to appear and before they open. Cut the basil leaves from the stems, leaving about an inch. Rinse the basil under running water and place them in a bowl or bag. Store them in the refrigerator.

Knowing when to harvest your plants is essential to growing hydroponic produce and can make a huge difference in your yield. You should consider three main factors when determining the right time to harvest your plants: 

Harvest Timing

It can vary depending on which hydroponic growing method you use. For example, you can harvest hydroponic lettuce and herbs as soon as they are ready to be picked. Other plants, such as peas, can be harvested anytime after the pods have formed. 

Nutritional Content

Harvesting your plants at certain times increases their nutritional content. For example, lettuce harvested after eight weeks will have more Vitamin A than lettuce harvested after 12 weeks. 

Ripe Time

Harvesting your plants when they are ripe allows their flavor to be at its peak. For example, the taste of Asian greens won’t be as strong if the greens are harvested before they are ripe.

Step 3: Prepare Your Tools and Equipment

Before harvesting, you must ensure you have everything you need. Equipment includes your water-resistant bucket, sharp knife, and whatever you use to mark the plants. You also want to turn off whatever system you use to grow the plants. It is essential because you don’t want excess water flowing through the system while harvesting.

Depending on the method you’re using to harvest your plants, you may need some special tools or equipment on hand. If you’re harvesting lettuce, Asian greens, or herbs, you can snip the plants off at the base of the stem with scissors or shears. Peas and beans can be harvested by snapping the branch that the plant is growing on. If you’re harvesting melons, squash, or tomatoes, you may need to use a scissor-like tool called clippers or pruners. Other tools you may want on hand include a harvesting basket, buckets, or other containers to store your produce.

Step 4: How to harvest the plants

Now that your tools and equipment are ready, it’s time to harvest the plants! 

Cutting the whole plants

If you’re growing hydroponic plants in a hanging garden, you can usually just cut the entire stem of the plant at ground level. If the plants are growing in containers, you can use a harvesting basket to extend your reach or lift the container to get to the plants. Once you’ve harvested the plants, you will want to wash and store them as soon as possible. 

If you’re growing hydroponically in a water garden, you can remove the plant from the water and place it in a bucket of water to clean it off before storing it. You can also use a stream of water from a hose or faucet to clean off the plants before storing them. Drying your plants as soon as you’ve harvested them is also important. It will help prevent disease and rot from spreading.


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Harvesting plants with the roots

These days, you can buy live plants in the supermarket that still have their roots attached. In a hydroponic system, you can do the same thing. To harvest this plant, keep the cup on it to pull them out.

You can later clean it with rubbing alcohol, disinfect it, and reuse it. Whenever you harvest produce, you can keep it fresh longer and keep the colors bright by plunging them into ice water and patting them dry with a towel. 

Cut and regrow method

You’ll notice that you want to harvest the plant after cutting and regrowing lettuce for a week or two. The stems are getting longer, and you would not wish to regrow them at this point. Cut off the whole plant and store it in the refrigerator till you want to consume it. These crops are not suitable for the market because they don’t look representative, so it’s better to use them in your kitchen. You can prepare new seedlings to replace harvested plants.

“Plant successive crops of lettuce throughout the growing season. This staggers the harvesting time to allow longer availability of fresh leaves for your salads and sandwiches.”

Shelley Frost of HomeGuides

You can also harvest kale to regrow, so you must look primarily at the plants near the light. You will start by trimming the stems near the base of the plant and removing them. Take all but a few of the stems from this plant. You can leave the ones closest to the center of the plant in the system and allow it to regrow. 

You can use the cut and regrow approach for a lot of herbs. Choose a node where two new branches are growing, chop it right above the node, and harvest whatever portion you need to use, package, or dry. Whatever you don’t use, you can allow it to regrow. 

You can use this method with many plants. Select a plant, remove these larger leaves around the bottom, and keep just a few in the center. They can still photosynthesize, produce energy, and regrow if we remove the larger leaves surrounding the base. 

Final Words

Whether you’re interested in hydroponic gardening for economic or environmental reasons, you’ll find that it can be a rewarding activity. The best way to start with hydroponic gardening is to choose a method that works best for your lifestyle and to start small by growing only one type of produce. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you can expand your growing operation to include as many different plants as you like.

If you follow the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be harvesting hydroponic plants in no time. Remember to ensure that the plants are ready to be harvested, avoid damaging the roots as much as possible, and wait for the right time to harvest certain plants. With these tips in mind, you’ll be harvesting hydroponic plants in no time.