Frequent rains and lots of sunshine makes for lots of produce. Here are a few hints for harvesting some of our most popular summer crops.
Pay attention to your 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. Harvest full-size snap bean pods before the beans begin to bulge.
For Edamame and Greasy Beans pods should be green and bulging with seeds.
Pick daily for a continuous supply.
Fresh tastes best—harvest beans right before you use them.
Frequent harvesting of cucumbers helps the vines produce new fruit.
Pick bright green, firm slicing cucumbers when they reach 6 to 9 inches long.
Detach cucumbers from the vine with a quick, upward snap.
Select glossy eggplants that spring back when pressed. Use shears to remove eggplants from the vine.
Harvest lettuce in the morning.
Immerse lettuce immediately into cold water after cutting; then rinse and refrigerate.
Cut leaf lettuce when outer leaves are 4 to 6 inches long; harvest “juvenile lettuce” when heads are moderately firm and only half size to avoid bitterness during hot weather.
Harvest most muskmelons when the stem separates easily from the fruit. The skin between the netting turns from green to yellow at full ripeness.
The belly of a watermelon turns from greenish white to buttery yellow at maturity; the curly tendrils where the stem meets the melon to turn brown and dry; the melon sounds more like your chest than your head when thumped.
Personal preference dictates when you pick peppers.
Take care when picking—pepper plants damage easily.
Pick pimiento peppers when they’re fully red.
Pick frequently: small zucchini and yellow squash (6 to 10 inches long) and scalloped squash (3 to 6 inches in diameter) have the best flavor.
Tasty fruits have tender rinds (they should puncture easily with a fingernail) and soft seeds.
Pick fully ripe, but firm, tomatoes for juicing or canning.
Harvest green tomatoes before a killing frost and ripen indoors.
Store unbruised tomatoes out of the fridge for the best flavor.