Harvesting: Get the Most from the Garden
The most rewarding thing about growing an organic vegetable garden is harvesting!! Using your organic vegetables in recipes can save you money as well as allow you to taste the wonderful flavors of organic produce. The harvesting time for each plant depends on several factors including length of maturation time, temperature, precipitation, health of the soil, health of the plant, and insect and weed control.
If any of these factors are less than optimal, the length of time from planting until harvest may be altered due to stunted plant growth, plant disease, and other distresses the plant may undergo. Using a product such as Safer® Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray which eliminates plant diseases, insects and other pests is greatly beneficial to your plant as it will eliminate the problem without harming the plant or the soil.
Factors in Harvesting Organic Crops
You can determine when you will be harvesting certain plants by checking the maturation time and then planting them accordingly, so they are ready to pick when you need them.
By staggering your planting time by the different types of vegetables, you can plan to have all the plants mature at close to the same time for a large scale harvest of your garden.
Or, if you prefer to have a continual supply of various vegetables to eat, freeze, or can, then you can plant them all at the same time, knowing they will be ready to harvest at various intervals throughout the growing season.
Keep in mind that there are issues that can alter the time to harvest. These issues may include an early frost, colder- or warmer-than-normal temperatures, and the amount of rainfall if it is more or less than normal.
In addition, although the seed packet or young planting may state a certain length of time for maturation, this may vary according to your latitude and elevation.
Keeping your plants healthy is the key to hitting those targeted dates. Using a product such as Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will eliminate hard and soft bodied insects from your plants and keep your plants pest free all year long.
When to Harvest Vegetables
Keeping your vegetables healthy is the key to harvesting on time and harvesting healthy veggies. Using a product such as Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer will keep your vegetables insect-free all year long.
Follow these guidelines for your harvest:
- Asparagus– When spears are 5-8 inches long, snap off at ground level.
- Beans (Green)– When the beans inside the pod are ¼ normal size.
- Broccoli– When heads are a nice green color. Florets should be close together.
- Beets– You can begin harvesting when roots are about an inch in diameter, although most should be harvested when roots are 2″-3″ in diameter.
- Carrots– When they are about the size of your finger and before hot weather sets in.
- Cabbage– When head is good and firm, solid.
- Cantaloupes– When the cantaloupe breaks easily and cleanly from the stem
- Cauliflower– When head is white, smooth and solid.
- Corn (Sweet)– When ears are filled with plump, tender, juicy kernels. If you puncture a kernel with your fingernail, milky liquid should squirt out.
- Cucumbers– When cucumber is dark green, at least 5 inches long and about 2″ in diameter.
- Lettuce (Head)– When head is firm
- Peas (Green)– When pod is full. Earlier harvests yield more tender peas.
- Red Bell Peppers– When firm and bright red in color.
- Potatoes, Irish– When the tops have become yellow or die back.
- Pumpkins– Before first frost, when skin is orange and firm
- Spinach– When the leaves are desirable size
- Tomatoes– if using immediately, harvest when bright red and firm; if the tomato is not completely red, you may chose to leave it on the vine or you can pick it and let it ripen on a windowsill. If the tomatoes drop on their own, insects may feast on them so don’t wait too long!
- Watermelons– When underside turns from a whitish color to yellow; should make a thud when thumping on it.
When to Harvest Fruits and Berries
Fruits free from insects are healthy fruits. In order to keep your fruits insect-free, you should use a product such as Safer® Brand Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer. It is safe on your fruits and tough on insects!
Here is a guide to harvesting the fruits and berries you are growing:
- Blackberries– when berries are black and plump. Harvest every couple of days.
- Grapes– cannot tell by color. Will have typical grape flavor and smell when ripe. Remove clusters with garden shears or garden scissors.
- Raspberries– when the berries are a nice deep shade of red, not pink. A ripe berry should be able to “pop” off immediately without pulling on it.
- Strawberries– when the berries are a nice bright red and are firm but just starting to soften a little.
- Apples– depend on the type of apple as some are early varieties and some are green when ripe. Apples should be tested for taste and texture.
- Peaches– when fruit begins to soften and color is no longer green. Taste for ripeness. Fruit will continue to ripen after it has been picked.
- Pears– when they are not quite but almost ripe. Sample for light pear taste. Fruit will continue to ripen after it has been picked.
How to Harvest Vegetables, Fruits and Berries
How to harvest a particular vegetable or fruit depends on how it grows on the plant. Some may be snapped off, as in beans or peas, while others will need to be dug out of the soil, as in potatoes.
Prepare yourself for harvesting by having the following tools and equipment with you as you harvest: gloves, shovels of varying sizes, comfortable mat on which to sit or kneel, containers for harvested vegetables and fruits, and a wheelbarrow for leftover plant debris.
One rule of thumb that applies to harvesting any vegetable or fruit is this: do not leave any ripe vegetables or fruits remaining on the plant. Plants having over-mature vegetables or fruits will not continue to produce and will be more prone to diseases and insects.
Show Us Your Harvest!
When you’re ready to harvest this season’s crops, be sure to take a few pictures and share them with us the next time you visit Safer® Brand on Facebook. Got a pest-control or fertilizer question about the vegetables, fruits or berries you’re working on this year? Reach out to us on Facebook!
Further, make sure you subscribe to the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter for great deals on our products and fresh ideas for your organic garden!