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Expert gardener demonstrates hack to maximize your harvest before end of season: 'I've never thought to try [this]'

"They aren't the only veggie plant leaves you can enjoy."

"They aren’t the only veggie plant leaves you can enjoy."

Photo Credit: @thecottagepeach / Instagram

Effective gardening is all about getting the most out of your plants — harvesting lots of delicious veggies and then returning the rest of the plant's nutrients to the soil to feed the next generation of seedlings. 

But one Instagrammer has revealed a middle step that many gardeners skip that will give you one more way to use your vegetable plants.

The scoop

Dagny Kream (@thecottagepeach) is all about teaching novice gardeners to grow their own food and even offers a free ebook on the topic. Her recent video includes yet another tasty tidbit.

"Before we chop and drop these veggie plants, there's one more way we can maximize the harvest," says Kream in the video.

"Chop and drop" refers to a method for getting rid of plants that are unneeded or past their growing season, where the gardener chops the stem just above the root and drops the plant on the ground or in the compost to reclaim the nutrients.

But first, there are still a few nutrients there that should make their way to your plate. "You can actually enjoy your plants one more time before putting them in the compost," says Kream. "This pepper plant, for example. It looks like it's done producing for the season, but the leaves of these pepper plants are totally underrated."

Kream cuts off a leaf from the bell pepper plant and takes a big, crunchy bite, demonstrating that it's completely edible.

"And they aren't the only veggie plant leaves you can enjoy from the garden," Kream adds. "You can also eat squash leaves, green bean leaves, carrot tops, and even strawberries."

Another gardener on TikTok recommends beet, radish, and horseradish leaves.

Why it's great

Harvesting vegetable plant leaves increases the yield of your garden and expands the flavor palette of the produce you can grow. Veggie leaves are also a great substitute for lettuce and greens — which is really useful because those go bad fast. 

Having live plants in your garden that you can harvest whenever you need them makes it much easier to keep fresh greens on the table and get healthy vitamins in your diet.

Meanwhile, growing your own food is an eco-friendly move because it means less air pollution from shipping produce. Plus, eating more of the plants means less waste from your garden, and leaving your plants in the ground even after they stop producing veggies means they have more time to purify the air.

What everyone's saying

Commenters were excited about the new flavor options. "Whattt, I've never thought to try pepper leaves!" said one user.

"Pepper leaves are so good in soup!" said another user.

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