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Pickin' Time | Climate Action Now | Food Choices - September 12, 2013
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Fresh produceAs the folks at Cornell Cooperative Extension say, "Knowing when to harvest your vegetables is as important as knowing how to grow them." If you're not sure when to pull potatoes from your patch or the perfect point to pick a peck of peppers, there's a lot of folks online who are ready to share their expertise. While no precise rules exist, there are guidelines that will help you harvest your fruit and vegetables at the peak of perfection.
And it's important to pluck your plant's produce so they'll produce more produce (how many homonyms can you fit in a sentence?). Oregon State University Extension points out that it's important to pick fruiting vegetables (beans, peppers, eggplants) before they go to seed or the plant will go into a different growing stage and stop developing more fruit. So, make sure to zip up your zucchinis before they can be carved into water-going vessels.
We've written before about the importance of not wasting food in the home and it makes just as much sense not to waste food in the garden. After all, you've probably spent quite a bit of time watering, composting, and singing to your plants so you should make sure they can be all they can be. Nobody likes to see vegetables rotting on the vine or picked before their time.
There's some great harvesting guides that will spill all the dirt, from keeping your parsnips in the ground for a few frosts to melon's tell-tale "pleasant perfume" that's included in the venerable Sunset magazine. Our own Metro Master Gardeners recommend a Missouri Extension Service publication that includes not only harvesting advice, but appropriate length and kinds of storage. 
So, take these tips for tip-top produce and you'll soon be pickin' and grinnin'.

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