The vegetable garden is giving us more and more of a harvest and I thought I’d pass along a few tips that will help you increase the yield of your basic crops.
Five Cabbages From A Single Plant
When you harvest cabbages, cut them away from the stem.
This gives you a nice clean head of cabbage and it leaves the roots intact and still growing and producing energy. If you rip it out of the ground or twist it off, then these roots are disturbed.
We want those roots to keep growing because we’re going to go for a second crop of cabbage.
Yes, you can easily get a few more cabbages from the same plant if you use a knife to harvest the main head. After the head is cut off, make two cuts across the remaining stump. The cuts will be in the shape of a cross and leave four equal quadrants of the stump. The cut should be approximately one to two cm deep (1/2 inch) but don’t obsess over this – close counts.
By making four equal quadrants, you’re going to find the cabbage will scab over the original cut pretty quickly and then if you keep watering the plants, you’re going to find four baby cabbages growing; one on each quadrant. They won’t get as large as the main cabbage was but with a bit of luck, a bit of fish emulsion to boost growth and plant energy, you’ll get another crop of small cabbages for yet another salad.
How To Get More Broccoli From A Single Plant
Do almost the same thing with your broccoli. After you harvest that main head with a knife to leave the roots intact, the side shoots (every place there’s a leaf up and down the stem) will develop into smaller heads.
You’ll get as much or more broccoli from these smaller heads as you will from the larger central one. You still have to give the plant a boost in fertilizer to get a ton of these and you still have to pick the green cabbage worms that abound at this time of year but you’ll get a lot of green heads off one plant if you’re careful.
You Want To Stay On Top Of The Herb Garden Too
Closely associated with the vegetable garden is the herb garden and you really want to be cutting and trimming plants right now.
I saw our parsley plants trying to bolt (go to seed) this week and immediately whacked them back. I don’t want herbs to go to seed because they’ll lose some of their flavour and start slowing down on leaf production.
So get out there and trim that basil and parsley and other annual herbs because even if you don’t want to use them right away, you’ll need to maintain them for when you do want the leaves.
And Of Course, You Want More Tomatoes, Don’t You
There are several things you can do to really push your tomatoes along in the production sense.
The first is to keep feeding them. Give them a dose of fish emulsion or compost tea every two weeks and you’re going to see amazing differences in the yields of this plant.
While it should not be a problem this year with all the water we’re having, it is good to remember that a tomato fruit is over 95% water and any restriction on the water is going to reduce the size of the harvest. So do make sure the soil water is even with no ups and downs – from soaking to dry – this year.
This might be a problem if we get to August, the rains slow down and we get some high heat days. The fruit will start to expand in the heat and because the plant has all the water it requires, the plant will grow quickly, too quickly. With sudden turns in high heat, we’re going to see cracks.
As soon as you see plants cracking, harvest the fruit you can. It’s still useable. Immediate harvesting will reduce the tempting fruit from wasps and slugs because once they get a sniff of the sugars, you’re going to find them all over your plant and eating away. They will hollow out the insides of the individual tomatoes to their own advantage. This is why if we do go to high heat, it is going to be really necessary to maintain the water levels in the plant.
We want to maintain the plant’s growing abilities as best we can but do expect cracking when we get a lot of rain and sunshine.
Are Your Tomatoes Staked?
If your tomatoes are staked, then let me suggest you do a few simple things to increase your harvest.
I know you’re taking off the suckers to concentrate the growth along the main growing stem. But as the fruit sets, you’re going to do an extra stage of pruning.
A tomato ripens its fruit from the bottom upwards. So the lowest fruit ripens first.
As soon as that lower fruit truss is ripe and harvested, you can remove the leaves on that main stem all the way to the second truss of fruit.
This increases air circulation and sunlight onto the next fruit truss. You’ll find the plants will ripen the fruits a little faster if you do this pruning.
Finally, with staked tomatoes, you want to cut the top off the growing point sometime in the first week of September and prevent any side shoots from developing as they will want to do. This increases the energy going into the fruit development giving you a chance to ripen those last few tomatoes before the killing frosts arrive.
So do those few things and you’ll see increased vegetables and herbs coming out of your garden from here to frost.