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5 Tips for Harvesting Fruits & Vegetables

You’ve watered, fed and nurtured your garden. Now you’re ready to start enjoying the fruit of your labors! Read these 5 tips for picking before you get started.

Remember, bigger is not always better.
Many vegetables taste best before they grow too big. For example, zucchini are best picked when they are 6 – 8 inches long. They’re still good later, but they have hit their peak ripeness and their flavor will start to deteriorate.

Not all fruit and vegetables are harvested the same way.
For example, pears are picked when they are still hard! Watermelons must be fully developed before being picked. Tomatoes can ripen on or off the vine.

Two hands! Be gentle when you pick.
For example, take care not to yank the fruit or vegetables. Stems and branches are easily broken. Use two hands to pick; hold the stem in one hand and pick with the other. If the crop is ripe, but doesn’t easy pull by hand (such as eggplant), use pruning shears.

Harvest in the morning.
Produce will stay crisp and store longer, and not become limp from midday heat. This is especially important for leafy greens like lettuce, chard and fresh herbs such as parsley and basil. It also applies to crisp fruiting vegetables like peas, and anything in the cabbage family like broccoli and radishes.

The next best time to harvest is in the evening after the heat of the late afternoon sun has begun to wane. Fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers and zucchini are less sensitive to wilting, so they can be picked later in the day as can root vegetables like carrots, but make sure to get them out of the sun and into the refrigerator quickly.

Once a crop starts producing, check the garden every day!
Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce much more! Otherwise, many vegetables will bolt and flower as they “think” they’re done. Pinch or cut back herbs frequently to keep them productive (and to keep them from flowering).

Information courtesy of Almanac.com

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