If you have a vegetable and herb garden going in your backyard, this is an exciting time of year! You can finally start to see the fruits of your labor! If you haven’t planted any vegetables yet this year, it’s not too late to go buy some plants from your local nursery and have potted vegetables/herbs! There is no better motivation to eat healthy than having fresh ingredients at the tip of your fingers. It’s also motivating to eat food when you took the time to grow and care for it yourself. Here are some tips you can use to care for and harvest your food this summer.
Timing is everything. ‘Bigger’ does not necessarily mean ‘better’. Keep the seed packet or information card for each variety you plant. If you don’t have those, do some research to see exactly how big the vegetable should be when it’s picked. If you wait too long, they can become tough and lose flavor.
Water often. Don’t wait for the rain to take care of your plants for you. Water them daily or however you’re instructed to on the seed packet. Also, be careful not to water the leaves on a sunny day. Wet leaves in the sun can burn. Always water the soil around the plant and try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t too strong.
For herbs, pinch them and cut them back frequently to keep them from blooming, which can negatively impact the flavor of the herb.
You can pick tomatoes when they are green. Tomato plants mature closer to the fall. So, if you still have a lot of green tomatoes, pick them before the first frost. The green tomatoes will continue to turn red after they are picked and brought inside.
Prolong the life of your lettuce plant. Before the first big lettuce leaves are 5 inches long, you can cut the larger leaves, and come back for the smaller ones a few days later when they have grown bigger.
Cut cucumbers right from the vine. Don’t pull them. And research the variety you’ve planted to see the ideal size they should be harvested at.
When you see the shoulders of your carrot poking out of the ground, it’s time to harvest them. Don’t wait too long, or they can become tough.
Enjoy your gardening, and let us know how it’s going!