Green Tips: Harvesting Your Garden
Green Tips | August 27, 2020
Earlier this year, we published a series of Green Tips that covered how to establish a garden, maintain a garden, and create a rain garden. Now that the growing season is coming to a close for certain varieties, we’re rounding out the series with tips on how to harvest your garden.
Timing Your Harvest
Knowing when your produce is ready is an essential part of harvesting. Often, size and color are two of the most helpful factors in knowing when to pick. For some produce, personal preference can determine when to pluck your fruits or vegetables. Here are our suggestions on how to know when to harvest:
- Get to know the typical growing times for your produce. A simple internet search or checking the seed packet for information will do.
- If you’ve planted any root crops, wait until they’re at least the size of a golf ball before pulling them from the soil. If you’re not able to see the root, move the soil a bit to uncover the top of the vegetable.
- Potatoes are good to harvest 10-12 weeks after planting. If the plant has started to flower, they’re definitely ready.
- Fruiting vegetables like zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes are typically ready for harvest when they’re one even color.
- Squashes can be left on the vine until late autumn. They’re ready once the stem has hardened.
- Leafy vegetables and cabbages can be harvested once the head of the vegetable has firmed up. Leafy vegetables can also be harvested earlier, based on personal preference.
- Fruits that are ready for harvest will typically come away from the tree or vine easily and have an even coloring. Some fruits will feel soft to the touch.
Organic Waste & Extra Produce
Harvesting and cooking your harvest usually creates organic waste. Here are some eco-friendly tips for handling your food scraps:
- Composting is a fantastic way to create fertilizer for your next batch of garden plants!
- Check your local farmers market to see if they take food scraps.
- If you or someone you know raises farm animals, you can give the animals certain food scraps.
- Donate any extra, edible produce to a local food bank or soup kitchen.
- Host a sustainable dinner party using your garden’s harvest.
Save Your Seeds
Saving seeds from your produce is a great practice at the end of your gardening season. Saving seeds year after year has the same benefit as planting natives because over time, they adapt to local soil, air, and water conditions. Those seeds will require less water and fertilizer than new seeds out of the package that were conditioned elsewhere. Store your seeds in an airtight container and add silica gel packets or powdered milk to absorb moisture.
Congrats on reaping your harvest! We hope your produce is delicious, and you found these tips helpful. Enjoy!< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit
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