9/12 Edible Gardening 101: Harvest, Sweet Harvest

Harvest, Sweet Harvest

First harvest is always the sweetest!

Usually you will harvest early morning when the dew is dry, but the midday heat isn’t wilting or draining the plants. Herbs have the most oils then as well. I,however, sometimes harvest by flashlight after work, and no one has died. Harvest happens when is good for you and the produce is ready.

Plants put in in April, generally are ready in late June (think Hodge podge- for you non Maritimers that is the very first potatoes, carrots, beans, and peas you haul out of your garden and after boiling, you simmer them in cream and butter). You can replant these plants again if you would like for another harvest in September.

Plants sown in Late May will be usually be ready mid to late August.

Some vegetables need to be left in the ground until a light frost has “sweetened”  them- parsnips, turnips, brussel sprouts, even carrots and beets.

Time for the parsnips to come out and for the chickens to go in.

Some plants like lettuce and spinach need to be watched carefully for “bolting”. This happens when the plant rapidly goes to seed in hot weather. Lettuce and spinach can be picked early (baby spinach !) and will keep growing for another harvest. 

The more you pick beans, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and peas, the more they will produce. 

Others, like potatoes, are done when you pick them. Potatoes should be picked or “dug” when the plant looks like it is dying after its flowered. Cut back the foliage to the ground and leave the potatoes in the ground for another two weeks. Alternatively you can harvest and “cure” (toughen the skin” inside on racks away from the sun for two weeks. If you have lots, you will want to find a way to store them. They should be cured for a few days to toughen the skin, then stored in a cold dark spot away from apples.

Onions are ready when the stalk is falling over after flowering and needs to be cured if being stored.

I got these wonderful curing racks for $5 at the museum as they were selling off equipment from an archeology dig. I also source out old wooden window screens at estate sales for this purpose too.

If your tomatoes are green and the first frost is coming, you can pick them, wrap them in newspaper and store until they turn red. Sometimes right into December!

And if you have nothing to preserve, that’s okay as well! There is nothing wrong with just growing what you eat, in fact its a pretty great way to live for a few seasons. But if you live somewhere like I do I guarantee you will want to plant enough to enjoy garden goodness all through the winter.

I suggest pacing yourself as best you can to preserve your harvest. Pickled, frozen, dehydrated, cold storage: there are so many ways to preserve the harvest. 

That beautiful world is where we are going next, my friends !

Love Jenn xx

I feel like a superhero when I am harvesting!

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