Monday, July 9, 2012

Vegetable Harvesting Guideline

There are many different vegetables that people like to grow in their gardens. Each one is a bit different about when it is ready to be harvested. Here is a guideline to help get you started:
  • Watermelon: When your melon is ripe the white spot on the bottom of the melon should change to a deep yellow. Some people can hear a change in the sound made (hollow sound when ripe) when the melon is thumped with a finger. 
  • Turnips: When turnips have gotten too ripe they will be woody, to prevent this, harvest your turnips when they are 2-2.5" in diameter at the soil line.
  • Tomatoes: Harvest tomatoes when they are fully colored and slightly soft to the touch. Gently twist and pull from the vine. 
  • Summer Squash:  Best when picked young, needs to be checked often, pick when skin is soft enough to poke your fingernail through.
  • Spinach: Harvest by cutting at the soil line before you see a flower stalk beginning to shoot up as spinach goes to seed quickly.
  • Radishes: Radishes mature quickly. You will see the shoulders of the bulbs popping out of the soil line when ready for harvesting. Be sure to not wait too long to harvest, as if left too long, they will become tough and eventually go to seed. 
  • Potatoes: For full size potatoes, wait until the tops of the potato plants dry and turn brown. Start digging from the outside perimeter and move in cautiously to avoid slicing into potatoes. ‘New’ potatoes can be harvested when the tops start to flower. Carefully dig at the outer edges of the row. 
  • Peas: The pea pods should look and feel full. Peas are sweeter if harvested before fully plumped. To truly determine if the peas are sweet enough, they should be tasted.
  • Onions: Onions can be dug once the tops have ripened and fallen over. Allow the onions to dry in the sun.
  • Leeks: Harvest when about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Eggplant: Slightly immature fruit tastes best. Should be firm and shiny. Cut rather than pulling from the plant.
  • Cucumber: Check daily and harvest young. Timing and length will differ with each variety. The fruits should be firm and smooth. Over ripe cucumbers can be very bitter or pithy.
  • Corn: About 3 weeks after the silks form, they will turn dry and brown. The kernels should exude a milky substance when pricked. 
  • Cauliflower: Your home grown cauliflower heads will probably never match supermarket size. Harvest when the head looks full and while the curds of the head are still smooth. 
  • Carrots: When ready for harvest the tops of the carrot will show at the soil line and you can gauge when the diameter looks right for your variety. If the diameter looks good, chances are the length is fine too. But you will need to pull one to be certain. Carrots can be left in the ground once mature. A light frost is said to improve and sweeten the carrot's flavor.
  • Cabbage: The cabbage head will feel solid when gently squeezed. Needs to be harvested when it reaches maturity or it will continue to grow and split open.
  • Brussels Sprouts: The sprouts will mature from the bottom up. You can begin harvesting once the sprouts are at least an inch in diameter. Harvest by twisting off or cutting the sprout from the stem.  
  • Broccoli: Don't expect your home grown broccoli to get to the size of supermarket heads. We eat the unopened flower buds of broccoli, so check frequently, especially as the weather warms up, to ensure you don't let the flower heads bloom. Harvest when the buds are about the size of a match head.
  • Asparagus: Begin harvesting when spears are 6-8 inches tall and about as think as your small finger. Snap them off at ground level and new spears will continue to grow. Stop harvesting about 4-6 weeks after the initial harvest, to allow the plants to produce foliage and food for themselves.

For baskets, buckets, and other containers to help carry in your harvest visit Bucket Outlet.

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