Gardening: What You Should Be Doing … When
Peas, Beans (most forms), Lettuce, Strawberries, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower (All Regions)
Harvest peas when pods are 2-3 inches in length and a light grass green in color. With one hand, hold the pea plant right above a pea that’s ready to be harvested and with the other hand gently pull or ‘pick’ the pea from the plant. It’s okay if a bit of the stem remains attached to the pea. If you planted ‘snap peas’ you don’t need to do anything to the pod. If you planted any type of ‘pod’ pea, place the pod between your thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure until the pod ‘pops’ open. Remove the peas and discard the pod. About 2-6 peas will be in each pod, depending on the type of pea.
The three (3) most common types of beans planted in a home garden are green, yellow (or wax), and lima beans.
Green or Yellow (Wax) Beans: Harvest green and yellow beans when they are 3-5 inches in length. Their color should be a light grass green or dark green (green beans) or a yellow/green or sunshine yellow (yellow beans). With one hand hold the bean plant right above a bean that’s ready to be harvested and with the other hand gently pick the bean from the plant. It’s okay if a bit of the stem remains attached to the bean. Video Recipe: Southern Style Green Beans
Lima Beans: Lima beans grow inside pods, similar to peas. Harvest when the pod is 3-4 inches in length and 1-1 1/2 inches wide. The color should be a light grass green. Place the pod between your thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure until the pod ‘pops’ open. Remove the beans and discard the pod. Approximately 2-4 beans will be in each pod.
Leaf lettuce will produce until consistently warm temperatures hit, typically through June. Harvest when the leaves are 3-4 inches tall. The color will vary depending on the type of lettuce planted, but most leaves will be varying shades of red and green.
Harvest berries when they are 1-2 inches in height and diameter, somewhat firm to the touch, and crayon red or brick red in color. It’s okay to harvest a berry if a bit of yellow/white remains close to the stem. With one hand hold the strawberry plant right above the berry that’s ready to be harvested and with the other hand, gently pull the berry from the plant. It’s okay if a bit of the stem remains attached to the berry. Typically, strawberries harvest in groups, meaning a lot of berries will be ready for harvest at the same time. Discard any berries that are soft or mushy to the touch. Place the good berries on a paper towel (to avoid staining) on a windowsill and in a few days the ends will turn red. Once you begin to harvest, it’s important to check for more berries every three (3) days or so – they turn ripe quickly. Video: Uses for Strawberries
Harvest carrots when ¼ – ½ of an inch of the top of the carrot (orange part) is showing above the surface of the ground. Gently grip the base of the green leaves of the carrot (close to the ground) and pull straight up. The carrot should easily ‘pop’ out of the ground. If not, gently dig around the carrot and then pull. It’s best to harvest carrots as needed. Video Recipe: Pickled Carrots
Harvest broccoli when the head is 7-12 inches in diameter, firm or hard to the touch, and the flowerets are varying shades of green/gray. Gently grip the sides of the head with your fingers and using a kitchen pairing knife, cut the stem, leaving 4-6 inches attached to the head of the broccoli. You will likely get 1-2 additional cuttings from the same plant before it dies. If you see small yellow flowers on the plant or anywhere on the head of the broccoli, it’s over-ripe and should be placed on the compost pile, thrown away or left in the yard for animal friends to eat. It’s best to harvest broccoli as needed. Video: Using Broccoli
Harvest cauliflower when the head is 7-12 inches in diameter, firm or hard to the touch, and the flowerets are white or light cream. Gently grip the sides of the head with your fingers, and using a kitchen pairing knife, cut the stem, leaving no more than two (2) inches attached to the head of the cauliflower. You will likely get 1-2 additional cuttings from the same plant before it dies. It’s best to harvest cauliflower as needed. Video Recipe: Spicy Cauliflower
Stake or Cage
Peas, Beans, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Melons (if desired)
Monitor Soil Moisture
The soil should be moist to the touch, and a small amount of the soil should stick to your fingertip. If this occurs, the moisture level of the soil is fine. If no soil sticks to your fingertip, you need to water.