This week’s boot camp focus was on vegetable gardens. It turned out to be a bigger subject than I could cover in just one post. Coincidentally, Erica at Northwest Edible also made a timely post covering some great tips on How to Plan Your Harvest Based on What You Eat. Make sure to check it out. I won’t repeat anything she posted here and I’m really grateful she put it up.
For me, one of the things that was hard to learn when we first started gardening was knowing when to harvest. Some vegetables are easy to tell when they are ready to be picked; tomatoes turn red (or yellow or purple or what-have-you), but some things are a little harder to tell. You can certainly count days, as implied on your seed packet: 60 days; 75 days; 53 days, two hours and thirteen minutes… where did I put those torn, empty paper envelopes again? Right.
Here’s what I’ve learned for some of the trickier crops.
- Test green beans and peas early and often by picking one and eating it. If it’s plump, sweet and good, they’re ready, if they are hard – too late. When they are ready, pick them every day.
- Corn is ready when the silks turn brown and are dry. If you want to check the kernels before picking, slice along the husk with your thumbnail about an inch instead of pulling it back. Peek in and if it’s not ready yet, just close it back up.
- Watermelon is ready when the curly tendril nearest the melon shrivels up.
- Winter squashes (butternut, acorn, pumpkins, etc.) are ready when the vines fall to the ground.
- Pull your onions when the tops fall over.
What indicators do you use to know when your crops are ready?