6 Ways to Extend Your Harvests

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Harvesting tomatoes

Pickings from fruiting and pod-producing vegetables such as beans and tomatoes are coming thick and fast right now, but as summer wanes both the quantity of what you pick and how often you are able to pick it will begin to tail off. So encouraging these productive staples to carry on cropping for longer is the aim of the game. Here, then, are some top tips to keep those pickings coming...

1. Keep on Picking to Keep Plants Producing

The first rule with any fruit or pod-producing vegetable is to keep up with the picking. Leave those zucchinis to swell into marrows and you’ll inadvertently slow the initiation of new flowers and fruits. Beans will also stop producing more pods if the existing ones are left to ripen to biological maturity – by forming seeds, the plants will have completed their lifecycle, and will have no reason to continue flowering.

Check plants every couple of days and remove fruits and pods before they get too large or overripe. And if you’re heading away from home for more than a week, encourage your neighbors to harvest them – they’ll get free food and you’ll come home to continued pickings!

Keep picking to keep the harvests coming

2. Keep Watering for Best Fruit Quality

All vegetables need water, but fruit and pod-producing vegetables are particularly thirsty. Water-stressed plants quickly slow down. Aim to water regularly for consistent soil moisture, which will translate into plenty of well-formed fruits and pods, free of problems such as blossom end rot or cracking. It will also avoid the annoyance of fruits splitting, which happens when they have dried out too much then receive a sudden deluge of water.

3. Continue Feeding Plants

Don’t scrimp on feeding your crops. Continue watering a suitable organic liquid fertilizer on to hungry fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Feeding plants costs money but does mean more fruits of better quality, so the investment is well worth it. Or why not make your own liquid feed from fast-growing, nutrient-rich plants such as comfrey?

A regular liquid feed will result in better quality fruits for longer

4. Top Up Mulches for A Nutrient Boost

Mulches of organic material applied earlier in the season may now be looking a little scant. Top up mulches with new material. Straw that’s free of seeds is a great mulch for many fruit-bearing crops, including, of course strawberries. It’s naturally full of potassium, which fruit and pod-bearing plants love. Grass clippings are a ready-to-hand source of instant mulch too, and will help to keep plant roots cool and moist in hot, dry weather.

5. Prune to Let the Sunshine In

Strong growth over the summer months can mean that taller plants cast shade where they didn’t before, compromising crops that need plenty of direct sunlight. Consider cutting back overhanging foliage and act promptly to remove spent crops so that those remaining enjoy plenty of sunshine and good air circulation.

In cooler climates, now may be the time to wash off or remove any greenhouse shading, to trap more of the late summer sunshine.

Using row covers can keep the chill at bay and extend your harvests into fall

6. Keep Plants Warm to Extend the Harvest into Fall

Later on in the season stragglers can be encouraged to keep producing for a week or two longer by adding the thermal comfort of a floating row cover. Remove covers during the day to enable pollination, then replace it in the evening to provide a little warmth and protection against lower temperatures.

None of these techniques are exactly rocket science, but by applying each you’ll almost certainly be able to eke out more from your fruiting and pod-producing vegetables – and others for that matter. How do you keep your pickings coming? You can let us know by dropping us a comment below.

< All Guides

Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

Want to Receive Alerts When Pests are Heading Your Way?

If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

Show Comments


"These are all excellent tips! I have some potted herbs in my garden like rosemary and lavender which I'd always take inside when the cold season kicks in. Doing this allows me to continuously harvest them. "
Ollie Oakley on Sunday 9 September 2018
"Giving herbs a little protection is a great way to extend their harvest season - or even extend it to year-round!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 10 September 2018
"I live in the Pacific Northwest where the weather has turned cool (16 Celsius) with overcast skies, occasional sun and occasional light rain. I have dozens of tomatoes on vine. Should I leave them outside to ripen, or bring them indoors to ripen?"
Maggie on Saturday 15 September 2018
"I would leave them outdoors for a while longer. Check out our article on ripening green tomatoes, which has lots of handy hints. Search 'ripening green tomatoes' in the search field above. Our YouTube channel (search 'growveg green tomatoes') also has a video on the topic."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 17 September 2018

Add a Comment

Add your own thoughts on the subject of this article:
(If you have difficulty using this form, please use our Contact Form to send us your comment, along with the title of this article.)

(We won't display this on the website or use it for marketing)


(Please enter the code above to help prevent spam on this article)

By clicking 'Add Comment' you agree to our Terms and Conditions