Harvesting early summer crop
With the arrival of June comes the excitement of tending to a new season of vegetables in the garden. The longer days and warmer temperatures mean that plants will be growing quickly, and what’s extra exciting is that it's the perfect time to start harvesting some of the earliest crops. From ripe cherry tomatoes to plump snap peas, the summer garden is full of delicious possibilities. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out on your horticultural journey, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of enjoying some fresh, homegrown fruit and veg straight from your own plot.
Some of the first crops primed for picking in June are peas. You can check if they’re ready by feeling to see if the pods are full. You should be able to feel the peas inside. Picking them while they’re still young and tender helps to encourage a steady supply, which means you can keep coming back to them. It’s these first pickings that also happen to taste the best. They yield the sweetest and tastiest crop, so it’s good to eat them as soon as you can. Sugar quickly turns to starch, which means that they’ll lose some of that flavour.
You might find that some early potatoes are ready for harvest in June. New potatoes are the earliest to crop and bear in mind that these first spuds will be the smallest; around the size of a hen’s egg. Keep your eyes on the flowers- once they open or the buds drop, you’re okay to pick your earlies. Cut the potato plants to the ground, then gently prise the plants out of the ground with a fork. Leave some in the ground for later harvests- the second earlies take a few more weeks to mature and can be harvested in July and August. Then your maincrop potatoes can come out of the ground from August to October.
Onions should be harvested as soon as they’re big enough to use. If you’ve planted in the previous autumn, you should start to get your first crop around June. You’ll see when they’ve stopped growing because the leaves yellow and start to topple. Just make sure to harvest before the foliage dies down entirely. Use a fork to loosen the soil around your crop, then lift the onions out and leave them to dry on a rack before putting them away. Take care when lifting them out- any bruises could cause them to rot in storage.
Strawberries are not only delicious and the perfect sweet summer treat, but they’re also really easy to grow. Planting several varieties allows you to have harvests all the way into autumn, but this time of year is typically when you can start harvesting. Unlike other fruits, they don’t continue to ripen after they’re picked. That means you should wait until they’re fully red all over before harvesting. Pinch through the stalks with your finger and thumb to avoid bruising them. Once they’re ripe, they don’t keep for long so eat them as soon as possible.