Planting, growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables is a yearlong process. If you’re an avid gardener like me, there’s always a fruit or vegetable ready to harvest no matter the season. There are ways to successfully pick your fruits and veggies for your home garden; be equipped with a green thumb and distinctive techniques to ensure your harvest achieves its potential with maximum ripeness and flavor.
Asparagus spears are ready for harvest in early spring when they protrude six to eight inches from the soil. Harvest the spears that are thicker than a pencil—the tips will be firm and unopened. Cut the spears off at ground level or slightly below. However, if this is the first year of your asparagus plant, WeekendGardener.net recommends waiting until the third season so healthy root systems are established. The third year should bring about a harvest time spanning three or four weeks.
Cherries are generally picked in late spring and summer. Tall cherry trees present a challenge to growers that ladders can’t remedy. According to OrganicGardening.com, sweet cherries can grow into trees that are 35 feet or taller. Having two free hands is essential when safely picking cherries and any other fruit from trees. Renting an aerial platform simplifies the picking process and leaves room to store pounds of fruit in baskets. The most powerful SunBelt Rentals scissor lift, for example, can extend up to 40 feet and accommodate 1,000 pounds. Harvest the cherries during dry weather by handling the cherry stem as you pluck them, advises Garden Fresco.
Biting into the perfect pear requires familiarity with how a pear ripens. Pears ripen best off a tree. The fruit should be picked in autumn when slightly immature; otherwise, the pear will develop a mealy texture, according to OregonState.edu. Growers can spot mature pears—meaning, ready to be picked—when the fruit easily detaches from being tilted to a horizontal position. Pears must also be refrigerated in order to properly ripen. Bartlett pears need one or two days of cooling, whereas winter pear varieties may need two to six weeks.
Sow carrot seeds in early spring, suggests Weekend Gardener. After two to three months of growing, carrots are usually ready to harvest. Watering the soil before harvesting will ease the process of extracting the carrot roots. Pulling them from the ground is the only way to examine their size. Carrots can remain in the ground even after maturation. However, carrots should be removed before the ground freezes or when the weather becomes intensely hot.
Fava beans, as well as other shell beans like lima and soy, can be picked when their pod color changes and the internal beans are fully formed, though not fully dried, according to Weekend Gardener. Look for the the pea pods to be husky and tender, yet firm to the touch. Harvest them in spring before the frost sets in.
Muskmelon, or cantaloupe as it’s commonly called, should be ready to harvest by late summer. When the cantaloupe rind changes from green to tan between the surface mesh, the melon is ripe. Cantaloupe should slip off the stem with minimal effort. If you harvest cantaloupe too early, the fruit is robbed of most of its sweet flavor. The cantaloupe plant transfers much of the natural sugars in the final days of ripening.
Carolyn is so glad she quit her job as a waitress and became a full-time freelance writer.