Tips for Harvesting

Allow plenty of time. You’ll need time to pick as well as to put food in the fridge or prepare it for dinner.

Be strategic. Pick either the ingredients for tonight’s meal or a large single harvest for preserving. Then you won’t be faced with two jobs after you’ve brought the produce inside. Helpful tools include durable scissors, a small serrated knife and a basket with a handle.

Keep it cool. Produce wilts quickly after it is picked, so harvest during the cool part of the day – early morning or late evening. Set up a processing bench outside to sort and clean vegetables. Keep produce fresh by propping cut stems in water.

Get ready. What will you do with produce after it lands in your kitchen? Harvest smaller amounts, more frequently, so everything fits in the fridge and can be eaten at the peak of freshness. Have a supply of plastic bags for storing leafy greens, cucumbers, beans, peas, and anything that wilts quickly after picking.

Stagger your plantings. If you are inundated by too much lettuce or summer squash, it may be an indication that you’ve planted more than your family can consume. Plant just a few seeds every three or four weeks in succession so that the greens never stop coming and you can keep up!

Extend the harvest. City farmers preserve bumper crops by dehydrating, freezing, pickling, and canning. Not all methods work well for all produce so match the preservation technique to the food. Learn about various food preservation techniques by taking a class.

Give it away. Many people in our community have little or no access to fresh produce. They would love extras from your garden. Area food banks will gladly accept donations of fresh, high quality produce. Check with your local food bank about particulars.

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