Every year I excitedly plant vegetable seeds, I give them food and water, as much sunlight as I can provide, shelter when required, anything a good plant parent would do. When it comes to this time of the year though, I impatiently await the arrival of something, anything…daily! Sure, I can pick a strawberry here and there, but not enough to even have a snack out of (note to self, need more strawberry plants!). On my daily rounds through the garden beds, after I pick one strawberry and my daughter gobbles it up, I see my cucumbers have just started to get fruit, my beans…no flowers on those yet, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce bolted, tomatoes…here we go, there has to be something. I get to the tomatoes. Oh nice, thank you for eating the tops of my plants deer. That’s okay though, plenty of fruit on the plants, but they are all green…still. Every day…did I buy the mutant green tomatoes? No, I surely bought the normal red ones, even the earliest ones. Any day now mother nature, any day.
Now for those lucky ones that do have their fruit or vegetables that may look ready, how do you know when is the right time to harvest? Lets explore, shall we?
If you’re like me and you like your beans tender and smooth, you will want to pick these before you can see any seeds bulging through the outside of the bean. These are really great sauteed. On the other side we have the shell style beans, the type of beans where you can see the seeds through the pod, but the pod is still green. These will need to be cooked for a longer period of time.
This is really a cool season crop, and will bolt in hot weather. Bolting is where the heads will open and the plant will grow tall. Broccoli is ready for harvest when the green, tight heads are developed and the buds are closed. If the buds open into small yellow flowers, the broccoli is past the point of no return.
A bit obvious here, but this will apply more toward some of the heirloom varieties, which were bred for flavor over anything. Newer varieties were bred mostly for disease resistance, growth, growing conditions, days until maturity, how easily the tomato will separate from the stem, flavor, among other qualities. Heirloom varieties may not separate so easily to where the stem or immature fruit is ripped away. So until you know, we recommend using hand pruners, so you don’t accidentally lose tomatoes or your whole plant.
Generally the silk at the top of the corn will be brown to let you know it’s ready. The ear may also angle away from the plant a bit more as well. A nice tip on kernels; pick sweet corn when kernels are rounded; rounded is sweet, rectangular has become starchy.
There is no advantage to thumping that melon, it only causes bruising and will rot your melon early. The best way to tell if your melon is ready is to gently press with your thumb on the the spot where the stem meets the melon. The stem will separate without much pressure if its ripe and sweet! A quick visual test can be done; the background color and netting should appear tan, and the bottom of the melon that touches the ground will be a yellowish color.
If you have ever thought about having a garden, small, large, raised beds, anything that you’ve thought of, but would like help planning it all out and might like to include some landscaping in it as well (to keep away the pesky deer and other critters!) give us a call or email us, we would be glad to be part of your plan! Until then…I’ll be checking on my vegetables daily…waiting…and waiting…