How To: Harvest Fruit & Vegetables From The Garden

Growing and harvesting fruit and vegetables from your garden is possibly one of the most rewarding things you can do. Once you have tasted fresh produce from your garden or allotment you won’t go back! Even small gardens or paved areas can yield an array of veggies by taking advantage of vertical space and containers.

How To: Harvest Fruit & Vegetables From The Garden

Root Vegetables

  • Potatoes: Potatoes can be harvested in June and July for first earlies, July and August for second earlies and late August to October for the main crops. You can use a fork to dig them up and water to loosen the soil. Leave the potatoes out for a few hours before storing them.
  • Carrots: These can be harvested after around 12 weeks – it is better to eat them when they are slightly smaller rather than waiting until September as they will be sweeter.
  • Radish: Radish can be pulled up by hand when the roots are swollen and between 2-3cm in diameter. It is better to eat them when they are small and juicy rather than large and woody.

Alliums

  • Onions: Onions will be ready after around 20 weeks (or a little longer if they were planted in the autumn). Once the foliage yellows and starts to fall over they can be carefully lifted with a garden fork. 
  • Garlic: Although the leaves of the garlic plant can be used as a garnish or in salads you will have to wait until around late June to July to harvest the bulbs. Leave them out to dry once dug up, once dry they can be plaited and hung up, or stored in a ventilated container.
  • Leeks: Leeks can be lifted from around 29 to 34 weeks and can be harvested when they are still quite small to ensure a longer harvesting period. Leeks can remain in the ground over the winter until they are needed. Just remember to harvest them all before flowers start to form in early spring.
How To: Harvest Fruit & Vegetables From The Garden

Beans & Peas

  • Peas: From around 12 weeks onwards peas can be picked when the pods are well-filled. Make sure not to leave the pods until they are thick as the peas will turn to starch. Sugar Snap and Mangetout peas can be picked when they are around 3 inches long.
  • Broad Beans: These beans can be harvested between 20 and 26 weeks from sowing and when they are around 3 inches long. Broad beans can be cooked whole but don’t leave the harvest too long as they will become too tough. 
  • French Beans: This variety of beans can be picked when the pods are 4 inches in length and by picking regularly you can crop plants for several weeks.

Fruits

  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are ripe when they have turned red and can be snapped off easily from the plant. Towards the end of the season or when it gets cooler and cloudier the tomatoes can be picked by the vine and placed on a warm windowsill to finish the ripening process. Not all tomato varieties are red – make sure to check which variety you have and the harvest time for that variety.
  • Apples, Pears & Plums: For these fruits, you can tell when they are ripe and ready to eat when the stalks snap easily. Remember to hold the fruit in the palm of your hand and twist it upwards to prevent any damage or bruising. This is crucial if the fruit is going to be stored as you do not want any damaged fruit spoiling the entire batch.

If you’re looking to store fruit and vegetables it is recommended to take off excess leaves from things such as leeks and winter greens – any wastage can be added to your compost heap. Stored products should be stored in a cool place such as a garage or basement, whereas leafy crops such as salad leaves and herbs can be stored in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Lastly, soft fruits such as strawberries, blackberries or currants will not store very well but can be frozen or turned into jams, jellies, chutneys or sauces. 

If you’re looking for some advice about harvesting or storing fruits and vegetables speak to one of the knowledgeable team at Holt Garden Centre who will be happy to help.

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