do I know when my crops are ready to harvest?
crops is a little like deadheading flowers; the more you remove from
the plant, the more it will produce. If you don't regularly harvest
crops like beans and cucumbers, they will develop mature seeds, and
the plant will think it's through for the season.
harvested regularly will continue to produce over a longer
Some crops are best harvested when they are small, while others need
more time to reach their peak flavor.
and snap peas can be harvested at any size, since you
eat them pod and all. Who can resist nibbling a few as you go
about your weeding chores! Garden peas -- the ones you remove
from the pod -- mature a little later. These should be picked
when the peas are actually filling out the pod.
lettuce can be harvested any time there's enough for a serving.
Harvest outer leaves first, and the plant will continue to grow.
Or you can wait until the plant is quite large and cut the entire
plant off at the base. Lettuce is sweetest when it grows in
cool weather; hot weather can make leaves bitter.
should be picked when the fruits are small -- 6 to 8" is
ideal. Somewhat larger fruits can be seeded and stuffed, or
made into that infamous zucchini bread. (Check plants frequently.
Remember, it's hard enough to give away zucchini, let alone
those club-sized specimens!) The same goes for their relative,
on the other hand, should be allowed to fully mature on the
vine. Pick acorn and butternut squashes, for example, when you
can no longer dent the skin with your fingernail. You can use
these immediately, or store them in a cool place for later use.
they begin, bean plants can produce a remarkable number
of beans! Keep harvesting, and you'll keep getting more. Bush
beans will eventually peter out, but pole beans will continue
producing up until a frost.
nothing excites a gardener as much as that first ripe tomato!
Tomatoes are ripe when they've reached their mature color (which
may or may not be red) and yield slightly under pressure. And
there are entire cookbooks devoted to those green tomatoes left
on the vine at the end of the season!
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