National Gardening Week Guide to Harvesting Fruit and Veg

National Gardening Week

National Gardening Week begins on Monday the 29th of April. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are calling on gardeners up and down the country to share their love of home-grown produce. The theme for 2019 is ‘Edible Britain’, which helps to highlight that everyone including little ones have space to grow something delicious, whether it is a single pot of herbs or a tasty allotment overflowing with fruit and veggies.

Hopefully, you have seen our Children’s guide to growing fruit and vegetables by now and have been busy planting lots of yummy foods in preparation for National Gardening Week! You will ideally know when your fruit and veggies are ready, what to look out for and how to now harvest them.

Here’s a helpful guide with all of the information you need to grow a variety of vegetables ranging anywhere from potatoes, courgettes, carrots, coriander, beetroot, parsley and many more! Get them out of the ground and onto your plate today!

Lettuce

National Gardening Week Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the simplest vegetables to harvest, just cut it from the stalk. It can be harvested between 30 and 70 days after planting, and should be harvested when the outer leaves are pale green. If the leaves turn brown or a flowering stalk appears, harvest immediately. If you can’t wait to try your freshly grown lettuce, you can pick the outer leaves, but don’t overdo it.

Tomatoes

National Gardening Week Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be harvested when they are red, but it is actually best to pick them when they are green and left to ripen off the vine, this prevents any splitting or bruising. They are typically ready 64 days after planting.

To harvest the tomato, pull it to break the stalk just above the leaves, you could also use scissors to cut it if it’s easier. When you are ready to eat the tomato, twist the remaining stalk off and enjoy!

Cucumbers

National Gardening Week Cucumbers

Cucumbers are ready to harvest 50 to 70 days after planting. It is important to harvest cucumbers at the right time to ensure it is sweet and not bitter. Ripe cucumbers are firm and medium to dark green. They don’t continue to ripen after they’ve been picked, so you will need to wait until is fully ready.

To harvest the veg, simply cut the stem.

Onions

National Gardening Week Onions

Onions are usually ready to harvest 100 to 120 days after planting depending on the type. Harvest time can begin when the onion tops naturally fall over and brown. You should harvest them early in the morning when the temperatures aren’t too hot.

To harvest onions, squeeze the spot above the bulb for a soft spot; this indicates that the bulb is done growing, and you can tug it out of the ground.

Peas

National Gardening Week Peas

Peas should be ready to harvest as early as 54 days after planting. When you are picking peas, the pods should be plump and have a swollen appearance.

The only way to tell if the peas are ready is to pick a pod and see what they’re like. Check a few of the biggest pods randomly to see if they are the size that you want.

Potatoes

National Gardening Week Potatoes

It all depends on the type of potato you would like, to know when to harvest them. If you want ‘new potatoes’, harvest 2 to 3 weeks after the plants stop flowering. For mature potatoes, wait 2 to 3 weeks after the foliage has died.

To harvest the potatoes, dig them up carefully, and try not to puncture the tubers. Make sure you don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them; washing them shortens their storage life.

Beetroot

National Gardening Week Beetroot

You will know when your beetroot is ready to harvest, because it will start to peek through the soil. When to harvest them will depend on the size of beet you would like. Smaller beets have more flavour, larger beets can become woody and fibrous so try not to leave them too long. Beetroot leaves can be eaten too, eat them raw, cooked, or used as a garnish.

To harvest the beetroot, water them a few days before to loosen the soil. Grasp the leaves where they meet the beet root and pull them out of the ground.

Broccoli

National Gardening Week Broccoli

The first sign that broccoli is ready to harvest is the size of the head. The head should be firm and tight and will typically get to be 4 to 7 inches wide. If the head begins to flower or starts turning yellow, harvest immediately. For the best taste, harvest it in the morning.

To harvest broccoli, cut the head from the plant at an angle, taking at least 6 inches of stem. Try to avoid sawing at the stem as this may cause unnecessary damage to the plant. You can leave the side shoots to develop and harvest later if you want.

Carrots

National Gardening Week Carrots

Baby carrots are ready to harvest 50 to 60 days after planting, mature carrots need a few more weeks and are usually ready after roughly 75 days. Carrots start to show ‘shoulders’ when they are ready to harvest, and are ½ to ¾ inch in diameter.

To harvest the carrots, loosen the soil with a garden fork before pulling them out of the ground. If you don’t think you will use them all at once, you can leave them in the ground.

Courgettes

National Gardening Week Courgettes

Courgettes are ready to harvest when they are roughly 6-8 inches long. You can grow them longer, but if you leave them for too long, the seeds and rind will harden, making them inedible.

When you are ready to harvest the courgette, don’t just pull it, use a knife to cut the veg from the stem instead.

Strawberries

National Gardening Week Strawberries

Strawberries are ripe and ready to harvest 28-30 days after full bloom. They will be completely red when they are ready to be picked, and the biggest strawberries will be in the middle of the cluster. Not all Strawberries ripen at the same time, so harvest them every two to three days.

To harvest the berries, cut the stem leaving about one-quarter on the fruit. Don’t just pull the strawberry though, this can damage it. Morning is the best time to harvest strawberries as the air is still cool.

Raspberries

National Gardening Week Raspberries

The best way to tell if a Raspberry is ripe enough to pick, is to see how easy it is to remove from the cane. Other factors to consider are size and colour; raspberries may vary in colour from light to dark red, and purple to almost black. Also, do they taste ripe? Raspberries don’t ripen all at once, so test the ones you think are ripe over a few weeks.

To harvest, simply pluck them from the cane.

National Gardening Week

If you would like more ideas on how to get your little one in the garden growing their own fruit and veg, get involved in National Children’s Gardening Week starting on the 25th of May. It’s a week that celebrates the fun that gardens hold for kids.

Join in with exciting activities that will keep your little gardener busy while they’re waiting for their veggies to grow. Have a look at what events are being held near you and spread the love of gardening.