Lichtenberger Stadtgarten · Berlin

Feeding on the heavy feeders


As late summer arrives in the Stadtgarten, many of the heavy feeders – common vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and corn ‚feed‘ on a lot of nutrients in the soil – are just about ready to be harvested.

Once these plants have been harvested, we can grow plants such as clover which help to restore nutrients in the soil for the next season.

In the meantime, it might not be obvious how to harvest some of these heavy feeders. Tomatoes are easily harvested (after a tomato has been red for about a week and is firm, gently pull it from the plant) and so is salad (new leaves grow from the middle, so cut the outermost leaves from the plant) and it can’t get any simpler than carrots (pull out of ground!). But corn, broccoli, fennel, and kohlrabi might need some explanation.




Both the feathery leaves and the bulb can be eaten. Look at where the bulb starts become thinner as it enters the ground, you can cut the plant just under the bulb where it is level with the ground. The fennel left in the ground may grow later a few more shoots of feathery leaves.




This is harvested in a similar way to fennel, but it’s even easier. Firstly, the leaves are edible, so you can just cut some off the plant if it’s the leaves you’re after. When the bulb is between the size of a golf ball or tennis ball, then it’s ready to be harvested – simply pull up the entire plant.




We don’t have much broccoli in the garden, just a few plants, and they don’t provide much to eat. But if you would like a couple of shoots, simply cut them off starting at the middle of the head. They are certainly tasty!




I tried harvesting a cob of corn a couple of days ago (Aug 13) but it wasn’t quite ready yet. You can tell when it’s ready when the tassels at the top of each husk are brown and not blond. And when they are dry to the touch. You can test also by carefully opening a husk, and using a fingernail, cut into a kernel of corn. If the fluid is milky, it’s readt! To harvest, pull down on the husk and twist. But again, the corn might need a couple of weeks more to grow. One very important thing with corn: Within 20 mins, the corn starts losing it’s flavor! Time your harvest with the S- and U -bahn schedule, or have a fast bike and a boiling pot of water ready!

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