How to Harvest Vegetables – Don’t Waste Precious Produce!
For those who love growing their own vegetables, spring and early summers are spent working the soil, planting rows of seeds and keeping them watered during the hot, dry spells. At the end of summer when the hours of labor have resulted in a beautiful and lush garden, the challenge turns from maintenance to harvesting the bounty. This is when many of us seem to have the most trouble. We’ve all been there: one day your zucchini are the size of a baby’s thumb and overnight they seem to go through a time warp and explode into a monster squash. But it’s not just the zucchini. A few days of not checking the garden can result in overripe food which means the time spent nurturing the garden has also been wasted. The trick to keeping up with the deluge of produce is the same as what it takes to create it: a good plan.
Plan Ahead to Harvest Vegetables at their Peak
The best source of harvest information is right on the seed packet. Because there are so many different varieties of most every vegetable, there isn’t going to be an all-encompassing answer for any one type. Certain green beans have the best flavor when they are five to six inches while others should be picked at fifteen to eighteen inches. It will also depend on when your vegetables were planted. Seed packets usually show the approximate days to harvest, a number that many gardeners use when planting to determine if they still have enough time to grow. Hopefully, you’ve kept your seed packet, but if you haven’t you should still be able to find the information you need online. Companies like Burpee have some great resources available to know when to harvest vegetables.
Keep a garden journal and record the date you plant each vegetable and when it’s due to be mature. You can keep a traditional book or folder which is also a good place to store the seed packet for later reference. There are also several great apps for your tablet or phone which can set reminders for you. If you failed to keep seed packets and have forgotten when you planted your vegetables and what type you planted, you can still keep up with the harvest but you may not get your veggies when they are at their peak, depending on which cultivars you have. When it looks like it’s close to harvest, the best thing to do is make a habit of checking your garden every day and picking any produce that is ripe. This will not only ensure that you’re not letting anything go to waste, but also encourage the plant to continue producing.
Looking for something more specific on how to harvest vegetables? Take a look at a few past articles we’ve written:
How do you manage to stay on top of your garden harvest? Feel free to share your stories with us in the comments or on Facebook.