Every gardener will agree that one of the best things about growing crops is harvesting them. To finally gather and indulge in your labor is an incredibly rewarding and prideful occurrence. Harvesting makes all the time you spent caring for your crops suddenly worth it. You’ve satisfied your patience and devoted your time to feed, till, weed, sun and shield your crops, and now it is time to pluck and eat what you have encouraged to grow. Or is it? [photo via wikimedia]
- Harvesting Spinach: This leafy green is one of the most nutritious vegetables to eat and grow. They are packed with essential nutrients, such as chlorophyll, vitamin C and iron, and it can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Spinach grows fast and requires a quick harvest for the best taste. Most varieties are ready to gather at about 45 days into growth. Leaves should be vibrantly green and healthy looking. Spinach can be harvested by cutting the leaves at its stem. It freezes nicely in air-tight bags.
- Harvesting Leaf Lettuce: Homegrown leaf lettuce is far superior in taste and nutritional properties than their supermarket counterpart. It is a cold season crop that likes to yield in the spring and late summer months. It is ready to harvest at about 50 days into growth. The leaves should be perky and robust looking. Harvesting is as simple as plucking away the leaves you need, washing and then eating.
- Harvesting Broccoli: Broccoli is certainly a home gardener’s favorite. It is rich in nutrition and grows easily. It gives its best in the spring and fall months, and it is ready to harvest when the buds on the head are firm and tight. You can harvest by cutting the head from the plant with a pair of gardening shears or a sharp knife. Broccoli can be eaten either raw or cooked. However, it stores in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer until ready to use.
Knowing when to harvest your vegetables is almost as important as knowing how to make them grow. Each crop has an ideal harvest period. While some crops are more flexible, others can go from sweet and juicy to bitter and tough, if the harvest period is missed. Harvesting time also depends on soil fertility and temperature. Unhealthy soil and unseasonal temperatures can alter the crop’s harvest time, so it is important to pay attention to the characteristics of the crop itself, and pluck accordingly.