How to know when your vegetables are ready to harvest
January 4, 2018
One of the questions I am often asked by my customers after their garden are established is
how do I know when it is the right time to harvest?
You decide what to grow, you look after the plants and they seem to be growing well and now, HOW do you tell when they are ready to harvest?
As with most things in life, you get better at recognising signs for harvest for each type of vegetable and herb the more you are immersed in the experience. As you harvest and taste your harvests you will quickly know the exact colour of the capsicum (pepper) that is best at the time of harvest. You will learn when it is too sharp and when it is bitter and lost it’s fresh crunch. Note: this can vary a little depending on the variety of plant you grow. Some lettuce are naturally more bitter than others. The guide below is a general guide. To more closely monitor and find the variety you enjoy the most you can begin with my Summer list of the best varieties to grow. If you are keen to establish an understanding of the best varieties for you to grow in your space across the whole year I suggest you grab a copy of the Vegetable Garden Workbook and start recording your current garden planting. This will allow you to identify the most productive and the most enjoyed vegetables and herbs suited to your family’s lifestyle. Find the Workbook here.
When you invest time and care into a garden you don’t want to have things picked too early, before they are ready to eat or they can be wasted. The main culprits of early harvest is the children. Teaching them the right time to harvest each plant will ensure they get to taste the vegetable, fruit or herb at the right time when it will taste the very best.
Allocate one plant, or a few plants to your child to take care of. They will pay close attention to those that are under their care, watching it for signs of change.
When my children where younger I spend time each season talking to them, and showing them around the garden and each of the main vegetables we were growing. I pointed out the stages and changes as the plants grew and made a point of getting them to help with the harvest as each type of vegetable was ready. Over time this allowed them to identify readiness. This simple approach is useful for things like berries so they are picked at exactly the right time. The berries we grow very rarely make it into the kitchen, they are picked and enjoyed as a snack in the garden. The kids are able to identify the correct shade of colour of each berry type.
I used colour as a way to encourage them to identify readiness, with the shade of colour being important. For example light red is not ready but a dark red is ready to harvest.
As we begun to harvest for the season the children could then practice counting to see how many dark red tomatoes they collected.
Depending on their age, recording the days from planting to harvest is another way for children to recognise patterns and readiness. As mentioned above, the Vegetable Garden Workbook provides a format to record this information. Alternatively you could get the kids to come up with their own growth record chart to monitor the growth of a plant they are taking care of in the garden.
I have put together a list of the commonly grown vegetables in an urban backyard with some harvest notes and things to look out for. These tips will help you to know when your vegetables are ready to harvest. In addition to colour there are other indicators such as the shine on skin, the feel and the
Get your copy to download and print here:
Enjoy your Summer garden harvests.
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