Ronnie Budge an OSU Master Gardener and in this segment, she talks about the best time to pick your vegetables to get the best flavor. Nearly all of summertime vegetables that are ready for harvest soon should be picked while still young and not too mature. This includes:
a. Summer squash, e.g. zucchini, yellow squash: Pick while still small. Fruits may even still have flowers attached. (Flowers are edible.) If they grow too big, stuff and bake them or shred for zucchini bread.
b. Tomatoes: Should have deep color, be a little soft, separate easily from the stem. Don’t refrigerate! Some varieties called “determinate” tend to ripen all their fruit at once, and are good for canning. Other varieties called “indeterminate” ripen a few at a time until frost kills them.
c. Corn: Silks should be brown. If you peel back the husk and cut into a kernel with a fingernail, the juice should be milky but not thick.
d. Green beans. Should still be very slender with the beans inside just barely developed.
e. Peppers: If you like them green, pick whenever they reach a usable size. Otherwise let them turn color (red or gold depending on variety) when they’ll be sweeter and even more nutritious. They freeze well.
f. Eggplant: The skin should still be shiny and the fruit not yet full size. The color may be purple, white, orange or green depending on the variety.
g. Potatoes: “New” small potatoes can be dug carefully with the fingers or a trowel to cook right away, leaving the plant to continue growing and developing big potatoes for winter storage.
h. Salad greens: Lettuce, escarole etc. can be harvested by pulling off some of the outside leaves, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing.
One of the main advantages of growing vegetables in your home garden is being able to harvest them at exactly the right time for best flavor and maximum nutrition. Vegetables for winter storage won’t be ready until fall.
OSU Master Gardeners will be giving a workshop full of harvesting tips for all sorts of vegetables next Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Jackson County Extension Service. There will be a similar workshop at the Josephine County Extension Service the following evening, Wednesday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m.