We have a couple of tomato plants right outside our kitchen window that remind me when it’s time to make a pass through the garden. I thought I might share some other harvesting tips so you can enjoy your backyard garden when your vegetables are at their peak.
Beans: Pay attention to the pods. Fresh, juicy, bright green pods indicate tasty broad, lima and green shell beans. Snap beans should snap easily and have crisp pods with pliable tips. Make sure you harvest before the beans begin to bulge.
Broccoli & Cauliflower: Both need to chill out for the best flavor. Pick them in the morning, cool them down immediately with ice or water, and then refrigerate. Harvest compact, white, smooth cauliflower heads. Select blue-green broccoli heads and harvest them before the small, yellow flower buds open.
Cabbage: Cut cabbage heads off at the stalk when they feel solid and hard to the touch.
Carrots: Here’s a crop that gets better with age. Sugars increase as carrots grow for up to four months. Dig the full-size variety when they are about an inch in diameter (if the roots are cracking, you’ve waited too long). If they are cracked, they will be bitter.
Corn: Corn tastes best fresh from the garden, but if you can’t eat it right after harvest, cool the ears on ice and then refrigerate them. Harvest the corn about three weeks after the first silks appear. You’ll know the corn is ready when theears fill to the end with kernels and the silks and green husks appear dry.
Cucumbers: Frequent harvesting of cucumbers helps the vines produce new fruit. Pick bright green, firm slicing cucumbers when they reach 6-9″ long with a quick, upward snap. Quickly remove and compost any yellow, puffy, or overripe fruit.
Lettuce: Hot weather is a lettuce crop’s worst enemy, because it causes bolting (the formation of seed heads) and bitter tasting leaves. Luckily, you can often harvest tasty leaves from both head and leaf lettuce plants right up to bolting. Make sure and harvest in the morning to preserve the crispness it acquires overnight and be sure to immerse lettuce immediately into cold water after cutting; then rinse and refrigerate. The best time to harvest is when the outer leaves are 4-6″ long and when the heads are moderately firm.
Next time we’ll talk about melons, onions, peas, and peppers (to name just a few). For dinner last night we had the most wonderful stuffed green peppers. Yum.
If you have any questions about harvesting the vegetables in your garden, please stop by any Western Garden Center and one of our expert gardeners will be happy to help you determine the perfect time to start enjoying the fruits of your labors.
Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!
Latest posts by Becky (see all)
- Differences between Perennials and Annuals – What’s Best for My Garden? - May 5, 2017
- Compost and Amending Soil - February 23, 2016
- Cookie Butter Apple Dip - April 20, 2015