Advanced Gardening Techniques

Plant Supports

Gardens will produce more in less area and quality will be higher if certain vegetables are grown vertically rather than horizontally. Vegetables grown vertically have an extended harvest season and are easier to spray, tend

Figure 14. Caging tomatoes reduces labor for supporting the plants and increases yield. Be sure to fasten cages to stakes driven into the ground.
Table 6. When to Harvest Garden Vegetables


Vegetable appearance


When spears are 6 to 9 inches tall.

Beans, lima

When pods are full but seeds are green.

Beans, snap

While pods snap easily and are still smooth.


1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inch beets have highest quality.


Before flowers show yellow color.


When heads become firm and heavy.


When melons can be lifted and the vine slips without pressure.


Any time roots are firm and brittle.


Before curd loosens and discolors.


When leaves are large but still green and firm.


When kernel juice is milky, silk begins to dry and ears are full to end.


When seeds are small, flesh is firm and color is green.


Before color begins to dull.


When leaves are large but before they yellow.


When 2 inches or more in diameter but still tender.


When tender and mild flavored. Before bolting.


When leaves are crisp and tender.


When pods are 2 V2 to 3 V2 inches long.


For green onions: when bulb is 3/8 to 1 inch in diameter.

For storing: after the tops have died down.


After cool weather has improved quality.

Peas, English

After pods have filled but before they turn yellow.

Peas, snap

After pods form but before yellowing.

Peas, Southern

For fresh use or freezing: When pods shell easily.

For drying: After pods are dry and brittle.

Pepper, hot

After pods reach full size.

Pepper, sweet

When pods are full size and still firm.

Potato, Irish

For immediate use: After tubers are 1 inch in diameter.

For storage: After vines have died and skin has set.

Potato, sweet

After reaching desired size but before cool fall rains.


After they are full grown and mature colored. Before frost.


When firm and brilliantly colored.


Before becoming tough.


When leaves are crisp and dark green.

Squash, summer

When large end is 1-2 V2 inches in diameter and skin is still tender.

Squash, winter

When rind is not easily scratched by fingernail.

Swiss, chard

When leaves are crisp, tender and still green.


When fully colored but still firm.

Turnip greens

While leaves are green and crisp.

Turnip roots

After 2 inches in diameter but while still tender.


When tendrils adjacent to fruit die and rind on ground becomes yellow.

Figure 15. A double row of English peas 8 inches apart will increase yields and may be supported by a single netting.

through this tube. It is also possible to sidedress through irrigation water. More information on mulches may be obtained from Extension SP 291-H, "Mulching Home Gardens."

Figure 16. Apply organic mulches 2 to 3 inches deep around established plants after the soil warms up.

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