How to

Tips on how to harvest your vegetables

Harvesting your vegies at the right time can really enhance your enjoyment when it comes to eating them. Here are some tips for harvesting your vegies.

Carrots

Carrots are fully ripe when their shoulders reach up out of the ground and the leaves turn a rich, darker green than they were during the growing season.

Garden Tip: If you get impatient, you can harvest carrots as soon as they’re large enough to eat. Plant extra carrots so you can harvest baby carrots during the growing season while you wait for them to fully mature.

Lettuces

Most lettuces and other salad greens are a great “cut and grow again” vegetables. When they’re about 10cm tall, cut the tops of the leaves off and enjoy them in your salads. The plants will grow a new set of leaves that you can cut and harvest again.

Garden Tip: Stagger your planting times so that your harvest will be spread over a long period. That way you’ll always have a fresh supply of greens during the growing season.

Radish

Put your finger down into the soil and feel for the small radish. Pull the plants out, roots and all, as soon as you think they are big enough to use. Remember, it’s always better to pick your radishes when young. If you leave them until they’re old, they’ll be very tough and much too hot to enjoy.

Garden Tip: Plant radishes with your carrots. This will help space out the carrots in the garden and, because the radishes are harvested first, there’ll be room for the carrots to mature.

Silverbeet

Silverbeet can be harvested at almost any stage from when the leaves first develop. Young leaves can be torn and tossed into salads. Older ones are best cooked. Always steam very lightly and be careful not to overcook. Mature leaves can be shredded into stir fries, too.

Garden tip: Silverbeet and other leafy vegies need regularly feeding with a liquid plant food. Fortnightly applications of Thrive All Purpose would be ideal

Chinese cabbages

Chinese cabbages need good watering and fertilising, too. Leaves can be harvested at just about any stage and they can even be grown as microgreens, which means harvesting with scissors when the tiny plants are about four or five centimetres tall.

Garden tip: Don;t despair if some of your Chinese cabbages go to seed. Leave them to spread their seeds around the garden. Often it seems they are happier if they can pick their own spot.

Beans

In warm areas beans can be started early in spring and will be ready for the first harvest before summer arrives. Start picking as soon as the pods are a usable size – constant picking encourages many more beans to form.

Garden tip: After beans have finished cropping, dig the plants into the soil. Bean plants accumulate nitrogen from the atmosphere, so they become a natural source of fertiliser.

Zucchini and Squash

These fast-growing vegies should always be harvested when the fruit is small. Don’t let them get too large because, not only will they have less flavour, this will also stop the formation of more young fruit.

Garden tip: Zucchinis and other members of the pumpkin family have male and female flowers. When the first flowers form, identify the two sexes (the females are the blooms with the little fruit at the base) and use a brush to transfer pollen from the male flower to the centre of the female.

Spinach

Spinach can be harvested at almost any stage from when the leaves first develop. Young spinach leaves can go into salads. Older ones are best cooked. Always steam very lightly and be careful not to overcook. Mature leaves can be shredded and tossed into stir fries, too.


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