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When Should I Harvest My...
by NGB - Sam Schmitz
August 9, 2020

It's our favorite time of year, the start of harvest time! Harvesting at the correct time not only brings delicious veggies to your table but also helps the plant continue to produce fruit all season long.

Tomatoes:

For the best tomato flavor, allow the fruit to fully ripen on the plant. Wait until it is deep red, yellow, or whatever final color the tomato is to be because once it is removed from the vine, the supply of sugars is cut off. To harvest, gently twist the fruit so that the stem separates from the vine. Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature and will store on a kitchen counter for several days. At the end of the season when frost is predicted, green tomatoes can be harvested and placed on a windowsill or counter. Most will gradually turn red and have some degree of tomato flavor. Placing unripe tomatoes in a paper bag will hasten the ripening process.

Peppers:

Sweet peppers can be harvested at any stage of maturity. Less mature green peppers will generally be green or pale yellow, smaller, crunchy, and have thin walls and a slightly tart flavor. A benefit of harvesting early is that it triggers the plants to produce more fruit. Mature peppers will change color, have thicker walls, and a mild sweet flavor. No matter the stage of harvest cut the peppers from the plant with clean pruners or kitchen shears to avoid damaging the plant.

Watermelon:

One of the easiest ways to tell if a watermelon is mature is by looking at the small leaf (pig’s ear) next to the curly tendril at the stem end of a watermelon. If the pig’s ear and tail are dry or almost dry, the watermelon is ready to eat.

Green Beans:

Pick green beans every other day (when they have reached the size you like) so that the plants will continue to flower and produce more.

Sweet Corn:

To harvest the corn, grab the ear and twist with a downward motion. Some stalks may grow a second ear of corn and will be ready for picking at a later date.

Broccoli:

Cut broccoli heads when they “look like broccoli,” even though those heads might be significantly smaller than the ones you find in the supermarket. (Another broccoli fun fact: most plants will continue to produce side shoots of tiny heads all summer. Pick these before they go to flower and you’ll have enough small, tender broccoli for salads, omelets, and pasta dishes into the fall.)

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