One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is that they don’t start harvesting their gardens early enough.
You don’t have to wait for a frost report before reaping what you’ve sown. Harvesting from cities takes a long time, starting in late spring.
By now you should be in full harvest mode, picking fruit (if you want) from the orchard. If you do the job properly, you will have a long season of fresh produce.
Start by thinning. All plants need space for full development, so using thinned plants is the first harvest in the garden. Thinning begins in the spring, but it should continue as the plants grow.
Carrots, beets, radishes and leafy lettuces such as romaine and arugula, for example, need to be thinned out or they will fall behind. Cabbage, turnips and even Brussels sprouts should also be thinned out.
Many novice gardeners are afraid to prune seedlings. How much space to provide? Well, you know how great these crops are when you buy them at the supermarket. After all, there should be enough space between the seedlings for them to reach this size.
Ah, but don’t thin it all out at once. The trick is to give the seedlings a distance or so apart to begin with. Then thin a few more times as the plants grow. Therefore, you will become more and therefore more thinning to eat.
Some vegetables must then be harvested before they become too ripe and stop bearing fruit. For example, peas, snow peas, and green beans slow down and then stop flowering when their pods get too old. So don’t let that happen. Keep picking the young pods and the plants will continue to bloom.
If you want real peas instead of pods, stop harvesting a few weeks before the end of the season or dedicate a few plants to it.
Then there are plants that “grow back”. These are vegetables that will produce a new crop after harvesting the previous one.
There are two types. The former are the vegetables you don’t want to flower because when they flower, they concentrate on seed development and the harvest is over. This group includes mustard, arugula, chives, romaine lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard. They can be collected continuously, carefully cutting the leaves so as not to damage the crown. When the plant grows back, new crop material appears.
The second group of regenerating plants requires flowering, but cutting flowers promotes new growth.
Broccoli is a prime example. Cut the flowers from the main stem (preferably before they bloom), but let the plant continue to grow. New flowers will appear and you can harvest them in the same way until the end of the season. Likewise, indeterminate tomatoes, those that vine, will continue to produce better fruit if you harvest the tomatoes as they ripen. The plant is encouraged to develop new flowers and thus tomatoes.
Finally, there are those plants that just can’t wait until the end of the season to harvest. Kohlrabi and radishes become mushy when overripe. Cucumbers can be bitter.
You know how big a vegetable should be. Harvest when they reach this size, even if it’s in the middle of the season.
I bet you have something in your garden that needs harvesting right now. Personally, I always have a sharp knife and a basket with me when I go to water and fuss in our house. Isn’t that what a garden is for?