15 Harvesting Tips for Edibles

These edible garden harvest tips will help you pick more efficiently and improve the quality of your produce.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Vegetable Harvest Tips

When your veggie garden is in full production mode, it can be a challenge to keep up with the harvest. These tips will help you bring in the produce efficiently so you can get to the best part: eating!

Give Them a Bath

On hot, sunny days, a cold water bath will remove heat from the veggies. Take a bucket of cold water into the garden and plunge the veggies right in as you harvest. They will stay crisp and fresh until you can get them into the house.

Keep an Umbrella Handy

Use an umbrella to shade your produce while you pick. It is amazing how much protection this simple trick can provide. Your greens will stay fresher longer, and no sunburn.

Have the Right Garden Tools Handy

Root veggies will be easy to pull up if you loosen the soil first. Bring your trowel with you when you are planning to harvest. For the sake of convenience, leave a few common harvesting tools, like knives and scissors, in the garden. An old mailbox makes a good weatherproof storage container. When you are finished using them, simply rinse the blades and return them to the box.

Cut, Don't Pick

Whenever it's possible, you should cut the fruits (tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, etc) from the plant. Picking can cause undue damage to the plant which may slow or even halt production.

Be Patient

No need to pick your veggies before they're ripe. Nutrient levels are highest at the peak of ripeness. That's also when flavor is at its best.

Ripeness

In some cases, for instance tomatoes, the fruit may develop a bit of ripeness after harvest. This is not the case with berries. Once picked, no more sugar development occurs. Again, it is very important to harvest at peak ripeness.

Pick it Clean

When your plant is loaded with ripe fruit, be sure to pick all of the ripe fruit. When it over-ripens, it sends a signal to the rest of the plant that it has ripened it's seeds and now may expire...meaning no more production. To keep it going, keep it well picked.

Let it Dry

Wait until the foliage is dry before harvesting. Fungal diseases and some insects are more easily spread between plants when wet foliage is part of the equation. Mid-morning through early evening are the best times to harvest most veggies.

Pack as You Go

Keep rubber bands or twist ties on hand to bundle veggies into convenient sized batches. When you perform this task as you harvest, it saves a step in the house.

Curing Onions

For high quality onions, it is important to harvest in dry weather and cure them before storage. Curing onions is simply drying the outer skin by allowing them to stay in the sun for a day or two after harvest. If they are harvested in wet weather, it makes the process much more difficult. Simply pull the onions and lay them on the ground, turning them once or twice to expose all sides to the sun.

Curing Garlic

Although garlic and onions are similar, the curing process is different. Hang garlic bulbs, with the greenery intact, in a shaded location with good air circulation. Because they have so many layers of papery skin, they will need to hang for a few days to a few weeks to cure properly. when the tops have turned completely brown and the root crown is hard, they are ready to store.

Curing Squash

Winter squash will store well for months if they are properly cured after harvest. Harvest them with ten inches of stem or more, allow surface moisture to dry and wipe off any dirt. Cure them by allowing them to sit in a sunny location, but out of the elements and frost free for two weeks. Next roll them over and allow the bottom to be exposed to the sun for two weeks. The cured squash will be well hardened and "tanned" when it is ready to store.

Curing Potatoes

Potatoes store well only when cured after harvest. Hold them at forty-five to sixty degrees with eighty-five percent humidity for two weeks before moving to cool storage.This process will toughen the skin and heal wounds.

Curing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes require a curing phase after harvest as well. Hold them at eighty-five degrees with high humidity for one to three weeks after harvest before moving them to cool storage. This process helps to heal the skin and greatly improves flavor.

Enjoy Your Garden Harvest

Collecting the goods is one of the most gratifying parts of vegetable gardening. Have fun!