It's the time of year we gardeners have been waiting for...harvesting and eating the fruits of our labor! But there are always questions: When exactly to harvest? What is the best way to pick that zucchini? What if I harvest too early? Which veggies can I pick that will produce again?
Here are some tips on harvesting your produce and bonus recipes to put that garden bounty to delicious use.
Beans Bean stems are easily broken. Don’t yank; pick every other day when thebeans begin bearing to make sure that they produce to their full potential. Healthy plants will often rebloom and produce a second and third flush.
Beets can be harvested at any time often with the smaller ones being the most tender. With red beets, look for ones that are dark in color with a shiny coat. Cook the leaves as well as the roots -- all parts of the plant are delicious.
Cabbage Harvest cabbage heads when they have formed tight, firm heads. Cut the stem below the head but do not pull the remaining plant. Smaller cabbage heads often develop near the base of harvested heads.
Carrots Harvest carrots as soon as the roots show color. Carrots will take a frost and actually get sweeter with cooler fall weather. For a fall carrot crop, succession plant carrot seeds in midsummer.
Eggplant Harvest eggplants when the fruits reach full size, the skin is glossy, and the flesh firm. Press the skin gently with your thumb. If it bounces back without cracking, the fruits are ready to harvest.
Tomato The exact signs of ripeness vary with variety, but in general, perfectly ripetomatoes show deep color yet still feel slightly firm. You can pick tomatoes a little green to ripen indoors, but the best flavor comes from ripening on the vine .
Watermelon You can judge a watermelon’s ripeness by its skin color. Thewatermelon rind changes from a bright to a dull green. The part that touches the soil shifts from greenish white or straw yellow to creamy yellow.
For more information: Contact Diane Blazek at National Garden Bureau.
Founded in 1920, the National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate basic instructions for backyard gardeners and those who want to garden, that will inspire them to spend more time outdoors, enjoying all nature has to offer.