How to Extend the Life of Produce Plants for Maximum Production


Today we are going to be sharing with you how we can prolong our harvest from some of our favorite vegetable crops.


Hi, I’m Lindsey and I’m here at the Urban Farm. Today I’m gonna be sharing with you how we can prolong our harvest from some of our favorite vegetable crops. When we have plants, a lot of times towards the end of their season, they start to give up a little bit. They wanna flower, they wanna go to seed, but we wanna get more produce from them. So here are some things that we can do to prevent that to elongate this season and make sure we get as much production out of a plant as possible.

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In front of me is this ginormous basil plant. It’s beautiful, it’s doing amazing. As you can see, it’s starting to go to flower. These are the flower stalks and and eventually these will dry out, and this is where the seeds will form. Seed production is really important. We do want it to go to seed and we do want to save that seed so we can grow it again next year. That’s an important part of our food security plan and just overall sustainability here at the farm. But for right now, we want it to focus on production. It can go to seed later. What we’re gonna do to prevent that is just cut these flower stock ends off this kind of tricks the plant. It’s no longer putting its energy towards flower and seed production. So it can put its energy towards more foliage production, which is what we want. That’s the edible part of basil. So we can take pretty decent chunks off of this because pruning it will also stimulate growth. Any flowering plant that we have that with that’s doing this, where it’s starting to go to seed, it’s starting to produce. You can see this one was already starting to dry out. We can do a very similar thing. So if a plant that you harvest for its foliage for its leaves is going to seed and is flowering, the easiest way is to just cut that flower off you wanna do is minimal damage to the plant as you can. Things like basil, you could be a little bit more aggressive with your prune back.

If kale starts flowering, same thing. When it starts getting tighter at the top, you just cut that top off and then it’ll make more lateral branches. Lettuce is a little bit difficult. Once lettuce is gone, has started to bolt that it’s kind of done. It’s gonna taste more bitter. But there are plenty of things that you can cut the top flower portion off and it’ll continue to produce and you just have to be on top of it and maintain it. Another thing we can do to prolong our life of our plants is just to make sure that we’re cleaning them. So this cucumber bed, it had a bit of a hard hit with some squash bugs, so we just cleaned up all the dead stuff. Getting rid of any dead branches like this one, we’re just gonna cut it out. Dead leaves and foliage are much more prone to disease and mildew, so we just wanna eliminate that while we can to make sure our plant and our garden bed stays as healthy as possible. And this will help prolong the life of our cucumber plant.

Something else we can do is change the conditions throughout the season. This is pretty small Swiss chard, but the amazing thing about it is that we got it to over summer. So here in Arizona it’s really hot and usually Swiss chard is a fall and winter plant for us. But we got it to go over the summer and still produce, although in a little bit of a stunted state by making sure that it had shade. So in the depth of the summer, we had shade cloth over it, but this wall actually provides a good deal of blockage. So this switch chart is able to go and it’ll go into the fall making it go from an a seasonal crop to a annual crop, a perennial, which is really awesome.

So something you could do is just manipulate in order to make the conditions of where you’re growing a little bit more easy for some of the plants to thrive and grow for a longer season. Another thing we can do to prolong the life and to make more production is to eliminate foliage. We don’t need. So here on this okra, I’m just getting rid of excess leaves to clean the plant up. But also we want the production rather than going into the leaves to go into the okra. The same can be said with tomato plants. So these are tomato plants that have just started and they’re doing great. You can see they’re already starting to flower. So what we want to do in order to increase flowering and eventual fruit production is to clean off some of these bottom branches.

We don’t need the tomato putting its energy and resources into these because fruit production is not gonna happen down here. This will also help keep the tomato plant clean and healthy. Disease on tomatoes usually starts from the ground, so this is a great way to keep our plant clean. And then we can also get rid of, in order to increase production, some of these middle stems. So when you follow the main stem here, this is the main stem. It goes 1, 2, 3, and then we follow this up. And from here it goes, 1, 2, 3. I’m gonna get rid of this one and this one, and then this one will be the main stem. And this will just cause increased flowering in this one spot. So, and it’ll just make the plant less messy and just easier to manage over time. So same thing, just gonna get rid of those lateral ones. Just keep the plant nice and clean, and this will help with increased production and make sure that our tomato plant can survive and last longer throughout the season.

These are just some of the things that you can do to prolong the season. And depending on the vegetable, you might do something completely different, but this is a great way to start looking at your plants and seeing how can I get more produce out of this? I hope this helps you prolong the production of the crops in your garden and also take better care of the plants you have so you can get as much produce from them as possible.

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