man harvesting sweet potatoes

Growing your own organic vegetables can be a excellent experience. The environmental & health benefits of green gardening are well documented, but how can you make certain your kitchen gets the best out of your labours? Many gardeners that are new to vegetable growing find it hard to tell when to harvest their crops, particularly when the edible part is underground. Never fear! Here are some foolproof tips for picking ripe roots.

The packet

this might sound somewhat basic, but plenty of anglers do not keep hold of the empty seed packets. After all, who wants a great deal of messy bits of paper all over the place? Well that is fine, of course, nothing wrong with being neat, but you may want to think about tucking them inside an old text or folder, or documenting some of the info on the trunk in a laptop, until you bin them. Most seed packets give advice on when your veggies should be prepared to eat & this will give you an idea of when to begin checking for maturity.


the leaves of this plant can often give clues about its willingness. Onions, shallots & parsnips are prepared to lift when their foliage dies down. For onions & shallots, leave them in the ground for two weeks after the leaves turn yellow & flop above, then lift them dry them. Parsnips can be lifted lightly with a fork for eating when their leaves die down. You may leave them longer if you want, but cover the tops with a thick layer of straw to prevent frost damage.

Foliage can also provide a clue to the willingness of potatoes. For ancient varieties wait till the buds or blossoms have withered (no sooner than June, normally) then gently dig a little dirt from about to tubers to determine how large they are. The perfect harvesting size will be dependent on the potato variety. Main crop potatoes are harvested later in the year from September onwards when the foliage begins to die & turn yellowish.

Beautiful babies

a few root vegetables are delicious when immature. Including carrots, turnips & beetroot. You are able to’thin’ your create by pulling out little, young roots to consume as infant produce and leave the rest to grow & mature. It’s a terrific way to decrease waste and have wonderful sugar candy mouthfuls early in the season. Carrots can be chosen any time following the green shirts have sprouted & beetroot is best left till it reaches golf ball size (but do not let it grow larger than a cricket ball prior to harvesting). Baby turnips are usually prepared to eat approximately 6 weeks after sowing.

Dig it!

sometimes there’s absolutely not any option except to have a look see. Be as careful as possible once you dig a’trial’ root – you do not need to hurt the rest of your harvest. Gently loosen the soil around the root with a fork or spade and work it free. Carrots are considered mature when they reach a diameter of 2-2.5cm though you can make them get larger if you desire. Like the parsnips, carrots want some protection from anything more than a mild frost, so cover them with a layer of hay or hay if you would like to leave them in the ground over winter. Swedes can be raised as soon as they’re large enough to use but can also be left in the soil and lifted, as needed, through to spring.

Final Advice

One final bit of advice for ideal produce: make certain to harvest a dry day if possible and leave your roots to dry before storing in a cool, dark location. Most roots store well for long periods, if maintained properly, so that you may still be eating your fall pickings well into the New Year. Bon appetite!