Jo Arnell explains how you can reap the rewards of a little forward planning when it comes to the most productive crops in the veg patch.

The unstoppable rush of growth pushes on in the garden, as the plants race towards the solstice – the longest day, when there is maximum light. After this heady moment, growth starts to slow and nature begins to prepare for winter (I know, summer has only just got here). It’s an exciting time to be outside, but it can be hard to keep up with the tasks, too. Luckily, there are some early crops to harvest as a reward for all our hard work.

TEST Harvest beetroot from an early sowing, or sow some more now

Harvest beetroot from an early sowing, or sow some more now

TEST Harvest an early sowing of Calabrese

Harvest an early sowing of Calabrese

TEST Pick broad beans when the beans are the size of your thumbnail

Pick broad beans when the beans are the size of your thumbnail

TEST Fresh radish in garden

Fresh radish in garden

TEST Asparagus can be picked up until the Solstice

Asparagus can be picked up until the Solstice

TEST Chantenay carrots are great to grow in containers

Chantenay carrots are great to grow in containers

TEST Spinach is at its leafy best now

Spinach is at its leafy best now

TEST Harvest salad leaves before they bolt

Harvest salad leaves before they bolt

TEST Protect crops from pests as the weather warms up

Protect crops from pests as the weather warms up

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