Harvest times for vegetables

Beckie Fox

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Tomatoes should be fully coloured and slightly soft when squeezed. (Photo by Joanne Young)
Tomatoes should be fully coloured and slightly soft when squeezed. (Photo by Joanne Young)
Most tomatoes should be fully coloured and slightly soft when squeezed. (Photo by Joanne Young)

August is prime time for harvesting homegrown vegetables. Of course, timing depends on the variety, when it was planted, weather conditions and other factors, but generally vegetable gardeners are reaping the benefits of their good planning and ongoing care at this time of year.

The Home Garden Seed Association offers these tips on how to know when to harvest vegetables at the peak of their flavour.

Green beans

Pick before seeds form noticeable lumps in the pods. If left on the vines too long, the beans become stringy and tough.

Beets

When their shoulders begin to emerge from the ground, they’re ready. If left in the ground too long, especially in hot weather, their texture will suffer.

Chard and kale

Harvest baby leaves for salads. For older plants, cut the outer leaves regularly until frost or even later. Make sure not to damage the growing tips of plants when harvesting leaves.

Cucumbers

Pick when green and firm. Big cucumbers become bitter as seeds mature.

Eggplant skin should be smooth and glossy.  (Photo by Joanne Young
Eggplant skin should be smooth and glossy. (Photo by Joanne Young

Eggplants

Harvest when skin is smooth and glossy, regardless of the colour or size of the variety. Left too long on the plant, eggplants become bitter and develop tough skins.

Peppers

These have the most flavour when they turn red, orange or yellow, depending on whatever their mature colour is intended, although you can always pick them green if this is what you prefer. Clip off the fruits to avoid damaging plants.

Melons

Watermelons turn dull when ripe and the tendril closest to the fruit shrivels. The colour of the netting on cantaloupes goes from green to tan. Honeydews develop a yellow blush.

Summer squash

Zucchini is tender when no longer than 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). Patty pan squash is best at 3 inches (8 cm) or less.

Winter squash

Best when the rind is hard and no longer shiny. Cut squash from the vine, leaving a short handle, and cure it in a warm spot for 10 days before storing it cool and dry.

Tomatoes

Generally, fruit should be fully coloured and slightly soft when gently squeezed. Exceptions are large heirlooms and cherry tomatoes, both prone to cracking. Pick these before they’re completely ripe and leave them on the counter to finish ripening.

More about the home vegetable garden on Garden Making

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3 thoughts on “Harvest times for vegetables”

  1. So very glad I accidently became introduced to GARDENMAKING and subscribed. Still enjoy receiving a magazine I can sit down and relax to read. I am a member of the St. Margaret’s Bay Gardening Club, in Tantallon, Nova Scotia and have learned so much from great guest speakers, one of whom, Ian Jack, featured in the current magazine will be our presenter Wednesday, March 15th, and so many knowledgeable members over the years.

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  2. Every year my zucchini plants die. I’ll get 2-3 zucchini and then it dies.
    Not sure if it is blight but the stem at the ground level doesn’t look healthy. I water with a soaker hose?

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