Summer Harvest Guide

Enjoy the garden harvest all year with this plant-by-plant guide to harvesting and storing your favorite crops.

| July/August 2013

  • Carrots become sweeter in the fall, when soil temperatures cool down.
    Photo By GAP
  • Cure freshly pulled garlic by setting it in a warm (80 degrees or warmer), well-ventilated place for at least two weeks.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Sturdy pole beans that are just beginning to show bumps from seeds growing inside are the best green beans for canning.
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  • Peppers that ripen to their mature color (red, orange or yellow) are sweeter and more nutritious than green peppers.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • By gathering three or four leaves from each leafy green, new leaves continue to grow from the plants' centers.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Handle harvested potatoes gently and protect them from exposure to sun.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • All types of summer squash, including yellow squash, zucchini and patty pan squash, should be picked young, while the rinds are quite tender.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Keep the harvest going all season with these tips.
    Photo By Corbis
  • One of the finest crops of summer, sweet corn is ripe when the ears feel hard and well-filled when squeezed, and a test ear tastes sweet and tender when sampled raw.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine until they’re bright red and firm to the touch.
    Photo By iStock
  • Allow winter squash and pumpkins to ripen until the rinds are hard and the vines have begun dying back.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Store cured onions in boxes or mesh bags in a cool place with moderate humidity, such as a cool basement or garage.
    Photo By Shutterstock

In summer, the eating is easy. Step out to the garden, pick a few fresh plants and get ready for a mouthwatering dinner. But this time of year, it can also feel overwhelming to keep up with the harvest and to make good use of all the bounty our gardens are producing. This plant-by-plant guide will help you determine the best time and methods to harvest the most popular garden vegetables—and what to do to preserve your produce so none of your gardening effort goes to waste.

Carrots 

Harvesting Carrots: Carrots become sweeter in the fall, when soil temperatures cool down. In some climates, gardeners leave carrots in the ground through winter, but it is safest to harvest them before hard freezes become common. 

Storing Carrots: After pulling or digging carrots, trim tops back to ½ inch, wash gently in cool water and pat dry. Refrigerate carrots in plastic bags, or pack them in damp sand in a sealed container and store in a cold basement, garage or root cellar. Carrots also can be blanched—quickly dunked in boiling water, then cooled in an ice bath—and frozen. 

Garlic

Harvesting Garlic: Garlic cloves planted in late fall or early spring grow into upright plants with a new garlic bulb at their base. When the plants are about 60 percent green, with fewer than six leaves still green and healthy, loosen the soil with a digging fork and then pull plants.



Storing Garlic: Cure freshly pulled garlic by setting it in a warm (80 degrees or warmer), well-ventilated place for at least two weeks. Trim back tops to 4 inches and clip off the roots, and then cure another week. Before storing cured garlic, trim tops to 1 inch and remove only the dirtiest outer wrappers from the bulbs. Store garlic in boxes or mesh bags in a cool place with moderate humidity, such as a cool basement. 

Green beans

Harvesting Green Beans: Pick crisp, tender pods that haven’t yet begun to develop tough pod strings.



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