Once you’ve put in all the hard effort of planning and planting your garden, it’s time to reap the rewards. Harvesting a vegetable garden is the most satisfying part. Different veggies will be ready to harvest at different stages of the year, depending on variety, temperatures and when you planted them. To make the most of your bounty, there are some simple things that you can do to ensure freshness and increase their longevity.
The most crucial factor is to keep an eye on your garden every day. Check the progress of your vegetables so you can see which ones are approaching the right size for picking. This way you’ll get them when they’re at their optimum size for sweetness and juiciness, and by clearing little bits of your garden each day you won’t end up with one big harvest that ends up mostly being wasted. Picking the vegetables early also encourages the plant to produce more, and you’ll end up with a much bigger yield over the course of the full season.
Harvesting a vegetable garden can be done in stages depending on the variety of vegetables planted. Some of the common ones are as follows:
Lettuce – Pull off individual leaves as needed, otherwise reaches full size in 60 days.
Cucumbers – Harvest at 2-4 inches for pickles, or allow to grow full size. Cucumbers are perfect when they’re uniformly dark green. If they’re puffy and yellowing, they’re past their prime. Cut them off so new ones can grow.
Carrots – Ready for harvest at a half to one inch in diameter, but can remain in the ground up until the first frosts if you want to stagger your harvest.
Beans – Do not like cold weather or frost, so get your harvesting done during summer as much as possible. They take a short 45 days to fully grow.
Potatoes – “New” potatoes are dug up before the vine dies, but otherwise wait for the vine to dry up and die off before gently removing them from the earth.
Tomatoes – Pick when turning pink, as they can ripen without direct sunlight. Doing this will allow more tomatoes to start growing even sooner.
Harvesting a vegetable garden can continue all season long by planting a diverse range of vegetables and keeping a close eye on their progress. If you end up with too many coming to ripeness at once you can use them in pickles, turn them into freezable soup or give them away to friends and family.
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