Harvesting the Garden is the last in our series and the fun part of growing your own garden! The payoff of all of your hard labor! Tons of free recipes too!
Finally, after months of planning and work, you have beautiful vegetables and fruits in your garden! There are a few tips and tricks for proper picking and then storage and preserving your crops, so that they are at the peak of freshness!
- How do You Know a Crop is Ready to Harvest?
- Crops to Harvest Immature
- Crops that Can be Harvested at any Stage
- Crops that should be Harvested Fully Mature
- Fall Picked Crops – Crops that Become More Flavorful After a Light Frost
- Harvesting the Garden
- Harvesting the Garden – Storing Your Harvest
- Harvesting the Garden – Preserving Your Harvest
- Harvesting the Garden – Drying as a Means of Preservation
- Freezing as a Means of Preserving Crops
- Fermenting Vegetables to Preserve
- Harvesting the Garden – Pickling Vegetables to Preserve
- Making Relishes to Preserve Garden Vegetables
- Canning; Making Jams, Jellies, Preserves, BBQ Sauce, Salsas, Pie Fillings, Chutneys and Syrups
- Harvesting the Garden – Canning; Whole or Sliced Vegetables
- Other Recipes Using Produce From Your Garden
- Tools I Use to When Harvesting the Garden
- Harvesting the Garden and Preserving the Harvest
How do You Know a Crop is Ready to Harvest?
Crops to Harvest Immature
Determining when your crop is ready to harvest varies by type. Here is a nice chart from Iowa State U, that shows this nicely.
Certain fruits and vegetables are best harvested young. They are tender and most flavorful immature. These include;
- summer squash
Crops that Can be Harvested at any Stage
Crops that should be Harvested Fully Mature
Fall Picked Crops – Crops that Become More Flavorful After a Light Frost
Harvesting the Garden
Harvesting the garden is perhaps the easiest of all the steps, and obviously the most rewarding! Many of our most beloved vegetable crops can be picked by grabbing the fruit, twisting the stem of the fruit, and adding a gentle tug, while twisting. Do not tug too hard, or you risk damaging the root system, or breaking the plant. Plants in this category include, tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers.
Root crops, such as carrots, radishes, garlic, onion and parsnips, are picked by placing both hands around all of the leaves of the upper part of the plant, close to the ground, and strongly pulling straight up. If the root is very deep, a flat bar tool (link below) can be used to loosen the soil around the vegetable. Then it should pull right out of the soil.
Harvesting the Garden – Storing Your Harvest
My great grandparents had what was called a root cellar, under their house. Many root cellars were accessible only from the outside. They usually had earthen floors and homemade shelving. It never froze in the root cellar, but maintained a temperature ranging from 40-50°F. This area was perfect for storing all of their canned goods and much of their produce, like potatoes, apples, winter squash and garlic.
Most modern homes do not have root cellars, so the best thing to do is purchase a separate refrigerator (used ones are cheap). Set the refrigerator to around 45°-50°F and you have an instant root cellar!
Most of the vegetables and herbs that you harvest will have a longer shelf life, if they are refrigerated immediately after harvest! Like everything in gardening, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Tomatoes are at the top of the list, they break every rule!
Tomatoes are best stored on a sunny counter, or window sill, after picking. They can be rinsed off, or not.
Store basil, after cutting off of plant with garden shears, in a cup filled with water. “Tent” the leaves with a plastic bag to form a greenhouse. Change water daily.
Same as basil, above.
Store potatoes in a cool, dark space.
Same as potatoes
Same as potatoes
The same as potatoes
Same as potatoes
Obviously, some crops will not store as long as others. Potatoes, garlic and onions will last a few months, berries only a few days.
Harvesting the Garden – Preserving Your Harvest
Harvesting the Garden – Drying as a Means of Preservation
Drying fruits and vegetables is an ancient tradition and still a great way to preserve some of your summer crops.
Many vegetables and herbs are perfect candidates for drying. Methods include, the oven, grill, an electric dehydrator, air fryer, or in the sun in dry climates. Those include;
Freezing as a Means of Preserving Crops
Some crops freeze quite well. Many will lose their texture, but are great used in a variety of dishes.
- corn, Cut off cob. Freeze on baking sheets, until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.
- peas. Freeze on baking sheets, until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.
- peppers, roast peppers in oven or on grill. Freeze in bags
- zucchini, (I grate it in a food processor and then freeze)
- berries, all types. Freeze on baking sheets, until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.
- cherries, halved with pit removed. Freeze on baking sheets, until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.
Recipes; Sausage with peppers and onions, Roasted Pepper Soup, Roasted Pepper Sauce, Salsas
Fermenting Vegetables to Preserve
- hot peppers
Recipes; Fermented Carrots
Recipes; Fermented Radishes
Harvesting the Garden – Pickling Vegetables to Preserve
- hot peppers
Recipes; Pickled Carrots
Recipes; Sweet Pickles, Dill Pickles
Recipes; Pickled Radishes
Recipes; Pickled Red Onion
Making Relishes to Preserve Garden Vegetables
Recipes; Sweet Pickle Relish, Dill Pickle Relish
Recipes; Oscar Relish
Recipes; Zucchini Relish
Recipes; Oscar Relish
Canning; Making Jams, Jellies, Preserves, BBQ Sauce, Salsas, Pie Fillings, Chutneys and Syrups
Water Bath Canning Pot is sufficient to can jams, jellies, etc., due to the acid content.
Recipes; Apple Jelly, Apple Butter
Recipes; Apricot Jam without Pectin
Recipes; Cherry BBQ Sauce, Cherry Jam
Recipes; Raspberry Jam
Recipes; Onion Jam, Onion Marmalade
Harvesting the Garden – Canning; Whole or Sliced Vegetables
Pressure Canner is required for canning all fruits and vegetables whole or sliced.
Other Recipes Using Produce From Your Garden
- Brassicas – Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Romanesco
- Squash – Summer Squash
- Squash- Winter Squash
- Blackberries, Raspberries
Recipes; Asparagus & Shallots, Spring Starter with Wild Aspargus, Asparagus Soup, Shrimp and Asparagus Quiche, Asparagus Orzotto with Pancetta, Smoked Salmon Salad with Asparagus, Halloumi Asparagus Quiche
Recipes; Green Beans Almondine with Bacon and Garlic, Italian Potato Salad with Beans, Beans Curry, Grilled Shrimp Pasta Salad with Cherries and Beans, Dragon Tongue Beans with Pancetta, Air Fryer Green Beans, BBQ Red Cabbage and Yellow Beans
Recipes; Thyme Roasted Baby Beets, Beet Salad, French Lentil Salad with Fennel and Beets, Beet Crust Pizza, Beetroot Energy Balls, Radichio and Beet Salad, Beet and Arugula Salad, Beet Pizza with Beet Leaf Pesto
Recipes; Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli Jicama Salad, Parmesan, Garlic Mashed Cauliflower ,Maple Roased Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes, Cheesy Cauliflower Soup, Cauliflower au Gratin, GF & DF, White Lasagna with Romanesco, Orecchiette Pasta with Romanesco, Romanesco Curry Maple Roased Brussels Sprouts
Recipes; 10 Minute Cucumber Tomato Salad, Cucumber Sandwiches, Lemon & Cucumber Cake with Gin Icing, Cucumber Mojito, German Cucmber Dill Salad, Tomato Consomme Tortellini, Grilled Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Creamy Cucumber, Radish Salad
Recipes; Rhubarb Dump Cake, Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, Rhubarb Strawberry Apple Salad, Straight-up Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Pudding, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler, Mom’s Vintage Rhubarb Pie, GF & DF Rhubarb Crisp
Recipes; Garlic Thyme Squash Noodles, Zucchini Noodles Ground Beef Stir Fry, Summer Harvest Pasta, Grilled Summer Squash, Zucchini Crust Tomato Spinach Feta Pie, Sauteed Shrimp with Zucchini, Squash Risotto with Thyme, Summer Squash Casserole, Ravioli with Buffalo Mozzarella Summer Squash Sauce
Recipes; Venison with Blackberry Sauce, Grilled Peach with Wine Blackberry Sauce, Blackberry Peach Galette, Mini Peach and Berry Tarts, Vanilla Layer Cake with Blackberry Buttercream, Blackberry Cupcakes, Raspberry Syrup, White Chocolate Raspberry Pie, Blackberry Pear Traybake
There are, indeed, thousands of ways to preserve your precious crops, so that you can enjoy them throughout the year! So why not get started? Take that first step and plant a little garden this year, so that you can reap the benefits this summer!!
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If you have any questions about Harvesting the Garden, or any other garden topic, let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear from you and be happy to help!
If you missed the rest of the series, start with Planning Your Garden, one of the most important steps!
Tools I Use to When Harvesting the Garden
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I hope you have enjoyed this series on How to Start a Garden, and that it is, and will be, helpful to you, now and in the future! Thanks for stopping by today!
Enjoy! And have fun cooking!
Harvesting the Garden and Preserving the Harvest
- 1 baskets for gathering
- 1 any other ingredients needed for recipes chosen
- See post for tips on harvesting individual crops.
- Post also contains over 100 recipe links for many different garden crops.
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