Tips for a Quality Harvest

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When harvest time begins we all want to gather the fruits of our labors at the right time to ensure the highest quality produce for our table.  When that time comes, keep these harvest tips in mind:

  • Pick cabbages when the heads are solid and before they begin to split. To prevent splitting, cut or break the roots on one side after a rain with a spade.
  • Pick sweet corn before it gets beyond the milk stage when the kernels are first filled out. Silks should be brown and dry with the tips of each ear filled tight.
  • Harvest cucumbers every day at season’s peak, while fruits are slender and dark green, before their color lightens.
  • Eggplants should be picked when half grown and before they become dull.
  • Muskmelons are ready to pick when stems slip from the fruit, leaving a clean scar.
  • Wait to harvest parsnips until after a sharp frost. The same holds true for rutabagas.
  • Root crops such as beets, radishes, carrots and turnips are best picked before they reach the largest size.
  • When the underside of a watermelon turns yellow or when thumping on the melon produces a dull muffled sound instead of a metallic ring, it’s time to harvest.

As a general rule of thumb, pick all underground vegetables, like beets, carrots, onions, etc. in the morning. Above-ground crops like lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage and the like should be picked in the late afternoon or at twilight.

WHY? you may ask…because the sun’s energy runs from the foliage to the root at night, which is why you should pick root veggies early in the day; when the sun’s energy is still in the root. The sun’s energy is still in the foliage during later afternoon when above-ground crops should be picked.

Following these few easy tips will ensure your harvest is at the peak of its flavor for you and your family.

Leave a Reply