Follow my 30 tips for a great vegetable garden harvest, and you will be bringing in baskets of fresh vegetables all summer long this year.
Do you have a great vegetable harvest, or is yours just so so this year?
Summer is that time of the year when vegetables are starting to really show up in a garden. How is yours doing?
Vegetable gardens can be plagued with common problems and it can sometimes be hard to troubleshoot them.
Hopefully, some of these tips for a great harvest will help.
A great vegetable garden harvest is easy with these tips
I have tried growing vegetables all sorts of ways. I started with two baby tomato plants in an east facing garden and got a few, but not many.
The next year, I got more ambitious and planted a full garden on a section of my back yard with the lasagne gardening technique.
The garden continued getting larger and larger, year after year, until I came to my senses, and cut back to a much smaller but very efficient vegetable garden on my back deck.
Raised beds are also a great way to get a good harvest of vegetables when you have a small garden space. Check out this post to see how I made a raised bed vegetable garden from concrete blocks which gives me vegetables all season long.
I also combined stained wood and concrete wall supports to make two easy raised garden beds that give me a great harvest every year.
The number one factor that has given me such great success for all my vegetables and herbs, this year, is a very successful watering set up.
I have my hose set up very near to my vegetable growing area, and this makes it easy to water each plant just as it needs to be watered.
Tips for getting the most from your vegetable harvest (plus some recipes)
Since my vegetables are starting to come out in force this year, I thought it would be fun to share some of my tips for each variety of vegetable that I am growing.
I’ll also give you some of my favorite garden to the table recipes for each too. You can find the recipes here
Tomatoes are the most commonly grown vegetable in the US, but I have had limited luck with them until this year.
My beauties started producing tomatoes in early June and have continued to do so every few days.
I should have them producing until well into the early fall.
Tomatoes love soil that drains well and may give you yellow leaves if they remain soggy. They like a good watering and then a bit of a wait until the soil starts to dry out a few inches down. This develops a strong root system.
Another problem caused by insufficient watering is tomato bottom rot, since this results in a lack of calcium in the fruit.
Water from below, not above the leaves. This helps to keep the leaves disease free.
Removing the lowest leaves helps to be able to get into the root area to water.
If you have a long growing season, be sure to take some cuttings and plant them midway through the season so that you will have them growing late each fall as I do.
Pinch out suckers that start to grow on the leaf axils for stronger plants that are a more manageable size.
Stake tomatoes well. They can get heavy. I use pieces of nylon stockings to tie them to my stakes.
If your tomatoes won’t turn red, there are a few things you can do to help Mother Nature ripen tomatoes on the vine.
My favorite recipe for fresh tomatoes is Caprese Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad. It is simple to do and tastes wonderful when made with very fresh tomatoes. You can find the recipe here.
Peppers are fairly easy to grow and don’t succumb to many plant problems.
Don’t plant too early. Peppers grow best if planted well after frost. They love the warmth.
Stake them lightly using pieces of nylon stockings, so they don’t topple over.
Green peppers will turn red if left on the vine until they change color.
Space them 18-24 inches apart or grow in roomy containers. Organic matter helps to retain moisture.
Mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.
My favorite pepper recipe
I use peppers all the time in so many recipes. One of my favorite ways to use them is to stuff them. This recipe for Pizza stuffed peppers is easy to do and works with all types of peppers.
Cucumbers have been the bane of my existence until this year. I tried everything. Lots of sun, limited sun. Lots of water, not so much water. On the ground, up in the air.
Nothing worked for me….until I put them into a pot. I have the most wonderful cucumber plants this year. They are so lush and full with dozens and dozens of tiny cucumbers just waiting to grow. Finally!
Cucumbers are best grown from seed, since they don’t like their roots disturbed. If space is limited, give them a trellis to climb. They will love this method!
Cucumbers are heavy feeders. Feed well or add plenty of organic matter when planting.
Floating row covers immediately after planting will keep moths from laying eggs on plants. Cucumber beetle damage is one of their worst problems.
Harvest before the seeds are fully developed for best tasting cucumbers.
My fresh cucumbers don’t get much of a chance to get beyond a great salad and sliced with some salt. They make a great low calorie snack.
But this recipe for vegetable spring rolls in rice paper wrappers gives me a chance to use them as well as other garden vegetables in a wonderful and healthy party appetizer.
These are the quickest beans to get from a garden. About 50 days will give you a full crop. I planted both yellow and green varieties and both are doing well.
This type of bean is dear to my heart. It is an heirloom variety that I have been growing for many years with heirloom seeds passed down from generation to generation every since my great grandmother was an avid gardener.
If you are wondering about the differences between pole beans vs bush beans, check out this article. It gives lots of great growing tips for both types of beans.
Beans have a fairly short growing season. Succession plant for a harvest all summer long
Bush beans need no stalking, but pole beans love to climb so the will need something to do this on. See my bean teepee project for an easy way for them to do this.
Beans are best grown from seeds sown directly into the soil.
Harvest beans when they are young and tender. They will get very hard and tough if you leave them too long before you harvest them.
If you have heirloom beans, don’t forget to leave some to wither on the vines to collect seeds for next year.
I love fresh beans cooked so many ways. One of my favorite recipes is Green beans with sauteed mushrooms and garlic. Get the recipe here.
I had not even eaten Swiss Chard until a few years ago when I decided to try and grow it. What a wonderful green!
Swiss chard does not mind the cool. Sow the seeds two to three weeks before the last frost.
Plant three inches deep and about a foot apart. (can be a bit closer in containers) Thin with cuticle scissors.
Swiss chard is a cut and come again vegetable. It will regrow when cut, so does not need to be pulled out to harvest.
Slugs love Swiss chard. Trap them in beer traps.
Swiss chard recipe
Swiss chard has a wonderful flavor that I like much more than any other green. It wilts well and cooks quickly and is just delicious.
One of my favorite ways to cook it is my recipe for sauteed Swiss chard with lemon, wine and Parmesan cheese. Get the recipe here.
Find out more about growing Swiss chard here.
This fabulous root vegetable is very easy to grow as long as you follow a few easy steps.
Give them room to grow. A full beet can grow to 3 inches in size.
All parts of the plants are edible. The leaves are lovely sautéed and this is a great way to use the ones you thin.
Harvest greens when they are about 2 inches tall. They are best if harvested before they are 6 inches or so. When you harvest the beets, leave at least 1 inch of leaves, so the beets will not bleed when cooking.
Beets are a great root cellar vegetable and can be stored for 2-3 months in a cool root cellar, basement or garage.
Roasting beets brings out their delicious sweet flavor. It is hands down my favorite way to cook them. Here is my recipe for roasted beets with garden vegetables and grilled chicken.
It makes a hearty lunch meal and is so, so good. Just use whatever garden veggies you have on hand. For me it was potatoes and carrots as well as the beets. All roast beautifully.
My favorite Herbs
No vegetable garden should be without a collection of herbs. I grow the following each year:
Each herb grows really easily in a large pot. Most will come back year after year since they are perennials. (Parsley only lasts two years, and Basil is an annual.)
Give them full sun, plenty of water, but not too wet, prune off flowers as they develop (or they will taste bitter) and use them to make your favorite recipes.
Almost every recipe on my website which uses herbs calls for fresh herbs. Nothing is a replacement for the taste of fresh herbs!
6 Popular garden veggie recipes
Get the most out of your vegetable garden harvest with these recipes.