We’ve been spending some time in the Green Mary garden and allotment and they are both looking fantastic; we have some gorgeous looking crops growing including tomatoes, beetroot, broad beans and runner beans that are ready to be harvested.
We know that a lot of you (like ourselves) are novice gardeners and we thought it would be helpful to share some tips about how and when to harvest your crops and also to encourage you to get excited about growing some winter veggies.
Tomatoes can either be ripened on the vine or be picked before and left to ripen off the vine. It is recommended that you use scissors or secateurs to cut off your tomatoes with a small amount of stem at the top to avoid damaging the fruit.
If you are ripening your tomatoes off the vine, harvest time should ideally occur when the fruit is a mature green with a first flush of colour. If ripening indoors, it’s recommended that you keep them in a cupboard or paper bag.
With runner beans, the general advice is to start harvesting them when they are 15-20cm long but the most important thing is to harvest them before the beans swell. It is essential that runner bean pods are picked regularly to prevent pods reaching maturity as if this happens the plant will stop flowering and producing pods. Another bonus of picking regularly is that your plants will continue to crop for 8 weeks or more!
Broad beans should be picked when the pods are 7.5cm long and can be eaten raw (please do remember to remove the husk!) or cooked whole. The scar on the bean should still be white or green when harvested otherwise the beans will be very tough.
As with runner beans, peas need to be picked regularly otherwise the plant will stop producing pods, you’ll know when the pods are ready as they will be well filled.
You can find a delicious recipe for Risoni with broad beans, bacon and garlic on The Curve’s seasonal recipe page.
Carrots should be ready for harvesting around 12-16 weeks after the seeds are sown. You can pull them up as soon as you think they are big enough to eat, however, it is important that all carrots are pulled up before the ground begins to freeze in the winter but luckily, you can store carrots in the fridge for around 2-4 weeks.
According to the BBC, Beetroots are generally ready to be harvested when their roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball which should be about 90 days after sowing.
If you are wondering what to do with your harvested beetroot, The Curve has a really interesting seasonal recipe for beetroot brownies, we’re intrigued!
Planning for winter
It is important that anything you plan to grow over winter has time to establish by the time the cold weather arrives so now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you might want to grow. Some of the plants we recommend you to try this winter are;
Spinach – sow in August for leaves that will harvest over the winter and well into summer. Remember to remove the flowers to prevent the crop going to seed.
Turnips – sow in August for late autumn crop, you can also eat the leaves.
Peas and broad bean shoots – remember it’s not just the actual beans that you can eat, you can also eat the shoots in salads etc. you should sow these at the end of October.
Sorrell – sow in August, this will produce leaves all year round once established.
Onions – if you are growing onions, you will have to be patient. Onions that are sowed in early autumn won’t be ready until next summer.
If you have any additional gardening tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below.