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Harvest tomatoes
Harvesting the fruits of our labours is often one of the most enjoyable parts of gardening. At this time of year it is possible that the garden is producing lots of edible goodies for us to enjoy. With a little knowledge and forethought we can increase the amount of produce to harvest
  • More produce means more homegrown nutrition and more meals taken care of
  • Through the process of trying to maximise your yield, you can learn so much about the plants you are taking care of and how they can flourish most
  • You could give your extra produce to neighbours, friends and family to get that feel-good factor of sharing fruit and veg, as well as growing it
  • Teaching children about how to increase produce from plants is a great way for them to learn about plant life in general
  • Conversations about feeding and watering is a good learning opportunity to talk about the nutrients plants need to thrive
  • Many of our tips such as pruning and watering are good introductory tasks to get young people into gardening

Lots of vegetable plants that we grow produce edible ‘fruits’ such as tomatoes, courgettes, chillis and beans. As long as these are picked frequently, they will continue to produce more fruits. The best way to do this is to inspect plants often and collect the fruits as soon as they are ready.

Consider harvesting courgettes and beans when they are younger, they will be more tender and taste sweeter. The plant will then put energy into producing more fruits rather than continuing to mature existing ones.

Plants that produce edible leaves can often be grown as 'cut and come again' crops, such as lettuce and other salad leaves, spinach and many herbs like basil and coriander. Cutting regularly may prevent these plants from bolting and setting seed, as they are prone to do. Bolting is the term applied to vegetable crops when they prematurely run to seed, usually making them unusable.

Chard and Kale can be harvested in the same way, removing leaves when needed. If sown directly into drills outside, remember that any thinnings can be eaten too.

Some root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and turnip produce edible green top growth. This can be removed when desired, but remember to leave enough leaves to feed the root. Purple sprouting broccoli with its edible flowers will continue producing when harvested, just remember to look after the plants and recover with netting if necessary.

Harvesting more produce lettuce

Continue to water and feed your plants even though they are already producing harvestable produce. Plants like tomatoes and beans require lots of water and nutrients. This will increase the quality and yield. Make sure that moisture levels remain reasonably constant to prevent splitting and blossom end rot.

Refirm soil around plants that have been disturbed or affected by winds. Consider applying a mulch around the base of your plants to help to keep roots cool, retain moisture and add nutrients too. You could use straw, grass clippings or garden compost.

  • As plants continue to grow it may be worthwhile removing excess growth to promote good air circulation and light access
  • As the season progresses and the nights become cooler, plants in containers may benefit from being moved under cover or protecting with fleece, which can be removed during the day
  • It is best to harvest just before use or preparing for storage or preserving

Find out how gardening can change lives

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