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Harvesting Order Of Operations: Helping You Understand What To Harvest First

Harvesting time in a gardeners life is a busy one. Use this list to help you understand what to harvest first as the frost approaches and what can wait.

You don’t want your harvest to rot and end up in the compost bin. Often times no matter how hard you try you cannot eat it all fresh before it goes bad. Learn how to harvest your garden efficiently to create space for the essential preserving needed to keep your harvest long into the winter.

Some vegetables in the garden actually prefer the cool temperatures and will even survive frost for at time.

By understanding what needs to be harvested when you can alleviate a lot of the “rush rush” of the harvesting season. You can take more time preserving your produce with more involved methods like canning or dehydrating for extra long storage time.

Let’s face it. It is nice to be able to give away some of your produce to friends and family but you put in all that hard work so you could be the recipient of most of it. A lot of us work regular full time jobs which doesn’t leave a ton of time for the actually harvesting and then preserving it.

Below you will find my handy “harvesting order of operations”. You can use this to create a plan for how you will go about harvesting your garden.

Knowing that you could have several more weeks before you need to dig something up can help you slow down and actually enjoy the process of putting up your produce for the winter.

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Last Vegetables To Harvest From The Garden

Most root vegetables can tolerate frost as they are protected by the soil. In fact, it is a common saying that carrots get sweeter after they have been through a frost. In some growing zones you can even leave you root crops in the ground over the winter with some mulch for protection. Be sure to research this thoroughly for your zone. I am in growing zone 3 and our winters are far too cold for that.

Many leafy greens prefer the cooler temperatures and will even tolerate frost. You can provide them extra cover with row cover fabric or a low tunnel to extend their time outside even longer.

Put these vegetables at the end of the plants you will need to harvest:

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  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots (gets sweeter after a frost)
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Brassica’s – Kale, Kohl Rabi, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts
  • Collards
  • Swiss Chard
  • Rutabega
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Calendula

Tolerates Cold Temps But Not Frost

Place the crops in the middle of your harvesting process. They are not fussy with cool temps but most will not make it through a freezing night.

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Artichoke
  • Asian Greens
  • Arugula

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Harvest These First Always

This list of vegetables is your heat loving crops. They do not like cold temperatures and they definitely don’t like freezing temperatures. You will often see these plants start to yellow or potentially even have fungal diseases set in when the temperature has cooled for a long enough period.

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  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Ground Cherries
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Most flowers that are not a perennial to your zone.

This was not something I knew about when I first started gardening and would feel so completely overwhelmed at harvest time that did not enjoy the process and often had to toss or give away vegetables before they rotted.

I hope this list of “harvesting order of operations” helps you to plan out and enjoy harvesting and preserving your garden this fall.

For efficient canning and dehydrating I like to keep my pantry stocked with the key supplies so I can get straight to it without having to run to the store. You can find that list here 13 Must Have Pantry Ingredients For Easy Canning & Dehydrating.

A food dehydrator is one of the best ways to preserve your produce for a super long time. You can either blend up the dried food to make super food powders or use them in soups or stews at a later date when you don’t have any fresh available. You can find great easy to use dehydrator that would suit the average household by clicking this link here.

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