Enjoyment of the fruits, as well as herbs and vegetables, of your labor starts with a good harvest. Pun intended.

Herbs are best harvested just before the flower buds appear since this is when they are at their most flavorful. You’ll want to trim them such that you leave at least four inches below a pair of leaves in order to promote good regrowth.

Vegetables are best harvested as early in the morning as possible because sunlight raises their pulp temperature. The lower the pulp temperature at the time of harvest, the longer the shelf life of the harvested vegetables, so the earlier you start the better. Tomatoes are especially susceptible to chilling injuries and should never be refrigerated, while leafy greens will keep longer if picked directly into a bucket or bowl of cold water. In order to extend their life, leafy vegetables like lettuce can be harvested a few leaves at a time. Start with the outside leaves and leave the center of the plant to continue to grow.

Removing mature vegetables encourages the plant to set additional blossoms and yield more, so harvest them often. When vegetables like beans and tomatoes are allowed to over-ripen, they produce a chemical that inhibits further blossoming. As you approach the end of the growing season pinch off the last blossoms to redirect plant energy to maturing vegetables that have already set.