When is the right time to harvest your vegetables? Tomatoes, for example, tell you when it’s time. Their color pops out of the garden and into your harvest basket. Spinach and lettuce are used as you need them; and herbs go into the cooking pot all summer long. But what about root crops and others?
Brussels sprouts, for example, taste better if you let them go through one hard frost.
Since this is my first year growing potatoes, I had to read that you shouldn’t dig for the keepers until after the plant dies back. Yes, you can harvest now, but the potatoes will be ‘new’ (good for potato salads), but will not keep long.
Root crops can be difficult to determine when to harvest. The beets I grew this year, really showed themselves so it was easy to know when they were three inches in diameter. I have a gallon plastic bag filled with roasted and frozen beets just waiting for a January salad!
I’ve been eating the carrots as I thin them all summer long, but knowing when to dig for the winter is difficult. You can keep them in the ground, but cover them with a little hay after things get really chilly so you can actually dig in the dirt.
Parsnips are something new I’m trying this year as well. They are delicious roasted and in a good beef pot roast. I’ve been told they are actually at their peak if you let them sit in the ground all winter then dig them up as soon as you can get a spade in the soil. I’m only leaving a couple in the ground for this experiment; they’re just too darned tasty.
The University of Minnesota Extension Program has a great article on when to harvest and how to keep. www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg7619.html
How is your harvest coming along?