Remember how summer has been over for 3 months? And how we’re barreling recklessly towards (gasp) THE HOLIDAYS? If you literally can’t with “Santa Baby” and holiday shopping just yet, we’ve got just the thing to keep you grounded. Now is the perfect time to get back into your garden and harvest the last of your goodies- because like a good wine some of the best crops come with aging.
One slightly tricky aspect to gardening is figuring out when your crops are done growing and ready to be enjoyed. Some are more obvious than others, such as tomatoes, which will bruise, rot and fall apart when over-ripe. Root vegetables may become dry, tough and stringy if they stay in the ground too long but it can be a bit difficult to detect if this is happening. So how can you become a green thumb harvest guru? The best rule of thumb is to harness one of our favorite CRUDE values: Use your intuition!
Most leafy crops or those that grow on a stem are best when they’re still crisp and tender. If they look too tantalizing and fresh to pass up, they’re probably ready! For some crops like tomatoes and peas, you can taste test to figure out when they’re ready to eat. Root vegetables such as carrots, onion, and potato generally have a longer window of ripeness and are a little more forgiving with their flavor and texture. Herbs can develop different flavors as they bloom and age, but not matter what stage you harvest them at, you’ll be sure to have something that’s great for cooking or baking.
Our favorite time to harvest crop is early in the morning. You want your plant babies to have absorbed any dew so that they have the highest possible water content. It’s also great to spend time harvesting on an overcast day. Make yourself a big cup of tea, throw on a cozy scarf and head outside!
All you need to collect your harvest is a good set of scissors, garden gloves (if necessary,) a small spade or shovel and a durable basket. It’s good to spend a minute and think about all of your crops and how you’d like to manage and store them before you start picking and digging. Think about counter space, room in your fridge, canning, etc. It’s also fun to brainstorm potential recipes for your vegetables and have a few in mind as you begin. We recommend keeping a log of your garden to make planning and planting easier for the next season. Make sure you take note of your favorites so that you can look for similar seeds in the future!
Once you’ve dug everything up, give everything a good rinse and then begin your storage process. Many crops thrive just being left out on the kitchen counter to ripen before use such as tomatoes and peppers. Heavier root type crops do best when stored in a cool, dark place in your kitchen. Vegetables such as lettuce, squash or herbs are best kept frozen or in the refrigerator.
Herbs are easily preserved for future use by drying. There are few different methods for this depending on the type of herb, check out this short video for more information.
We have cherished spending some quality time with Mother Nature throughout the course of this series. We believe connecting with nature is one of the precious and necessary parts of life and we’re so honored to have shared that with you! As the holiday season approaches, we are especially grateful for the selfless bounty the earth gives us.
The CRUDE Team
P.S. We’d love to hear about your planting, growing, and harvesting experiences! Please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below if you’d like to share.