As gardeners plant their fruits and vegetables, they anxiously look forward to their harvest. For some vegetables, the wait is short. Radishes may be ready to harvest in 30 days. Apple trees, however, may not bear fruit for several years. Some small fruits and tree fruits may flower and produce fruit before the plants are well established. While it may be difficult, it is advisable to remove these flowers and not permit the plants to bear fruit. Removal of the flowers will maximize vegetative growth and increase yields in later years. Vegetables, such as asparagus, also need to be well established before the plants are harvested. The harvest waiting period for several fruits and vegetables are listed below.
June-Bearing Strawberries - Remove all blossoms during the first growing season. Go over the plants about once a week and pinch off any flowers. Flower production on June-bearing strawberries should end by July 1.
Day-Neutral and Everbearing Strawberries - Pinch off all blossoms until about July 1. Flowers that bloom after July 1 may be allowed to develop into fruit.
Blueberries - Remove all blossoms which form during the first two growing seasons. The yield will be low to moderate the third year, and increase during the fourth season, with a full crop expected by the fifth to seventh year.
Apples and Other Tree Fruits - Remove all fruit that form during the first three growing seasons.
Asparagus - No asparagus should be harvested the first year. The asparagus planting can be harvested for 2 weeks in the second year, 6 weeks in the third year, and 8 weeks in the fourth and following years.
Rhubarb - Rhubarb should not be harvested during the first two growing seasons. In the third season, rhubarb may be harvested for 4 weeks. The harvest period can be extended to 8 weeks in the fourth and following years.
The establishment period for some fruits and vegetables is critical. If not harvested or allowed to fruit during this period, they should reward us with bountiful crops for many years.
This article originally appeared in the May 17, 1996 issue, p. 79.