Monday, September 17, 2012

Tips to Maximize Your Garden Harvest Before the Frost

With the arrival of autumn, I switch gears in our vegetable and herb garden toward trying to maximize our harvest prior to first frost.

As much as I love the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, the shorter days of autumn remind me that our garden's days are numbered.  Save for a couple perennial herbs, it will soon be time to pull out most of our garden and surrender the joy of harvesting food mere steps from our kitchen.

Through the years I've picked up a few ways to get the most out of the waning days of the growing season.  Here are some tips to maximize your harvest before the growing season ends:

Prune Any New Blossoms:  Pruning blossoms that have no hope of maturing before the frost will help concentrate the plant's energy to maturing fruit or vegetables that are close to harvest.  Look for little flowers like these and try to be ruthless:

Prune Any Blight or Yellow Leaves:  Pruning yellowed and wilted leaves likewise will concentrate the plant's energy to producing healthy fruit or vegetables:

Prune the Top of the Plant:  Again, doing so will concentrate the energy to the fruit and vegetables below:

Continue to Pick/Harvest Herbs to Prevent Flowers:  Once a herb plant, such as basil, mint, or thyme grows flowers, it signals to the plant that the growing season is complete, and herb growth will halt.  Herbs will produce more if you continually harvest them. Pick basil before the first threat of frost and make pesto, which freezes great!

Allow Herbs to go to Seed:  Some herbs, such as dill and cilantro, produce seeds that you can use in the kitchen (dill seed and coriander seeds, respectively).  However, I like to leave some seeds on the plant in the garden.  These seeds often produce new plants in the spring.

Plant Fall Seeds:  In our area it still isn't too late to plant fall crops like greens, beets, carrots and more, all of which can often last after the first frost:


Here's to a successful end of growing season and a plentiful harvest!

Life is sweet,


Gina; The Candid RD said...

We still have tomatoes growing (we planted them late after our first round failed), and some basil that I'm keeping the house lately. these are great tips that I'll be passing on to Nick, the garden man!

Thanks for coming to the veggie demo last night. Your son is so cute and polite! I'm glad he (and you) enjoyed the food!!

Katherine said...

Save your empty seed packets every season and bundle them along in an exceedingly bag or giant mailing envelope marked with the contents. the subsequent year as you intend your garden.