HAR­VEST

Your Home and Garden - - Outdoor Diary -

> The best way to avoid bit­ter let­tuces is to pick them at the right time. For crisp­head types such as ice­berg, but­ter­heads (eg ‘But­ter­crunch’) and cos, the cen­tral head should be firm. Don’t wait un­til your let­tuce starts to flower or it won’t be worth eat­ing.

> Har­vest the leaves of leafy let­tuces such as oak­leaf ev­ery few days.

> Cel­ery should also not be left in the gar­den too long or it be­comes woody and bit­ter. And, as you do with leafy let­tuces, rather than wait un­til the en­tire plant is ma­ture, care­fully re­move just the out­side stalks as you need them.

> Those in warmer re­gions may be har­vest­ing early-crop pota­toes this month. New pota­toes don’t have thick skins so take care not to dam­age them with a shovel or fork. Hand har­vest­ing is of­ten best, loos­en­ing the soil first with a fork. Eat soon af­ter har­vest for best flavour. > If very few peas make it to the pot when har­vest­ing, don’t worry. Eat­ing them straight from the gar­den is the best way to teach chil­dren that their veges don’t come out of the freezer. Pro­tein-rich peas are full of good­ness but much of this is lost in cook­ing and freez­ing.

> When har­vest­ing newly planted as­para­gus only pick spears that emerge in the first week or so, leav­ing the rest to turn into ferns that pro­duce nu­tri­ents for next year’s crop. The fol­low­ing year you can pick for longer (2 weeks or so), and once plants have been in the ground for 3 years you can in­crease the crop­ping pe­riod to 8 weeks. Only cut back ferns when they have turned brown.

Gar­den ed­i­tor

CAROL BUCK­NELL

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