When To Harvest?

David Trammel's picture

I really like the guy who runs "Self Sufficient Me" on Youtube. He's got such an enthusiastic personality and the accent is a hoot too. He is also a great source of good information. He did this video recently about how to tell when to harvest your veggies.


That's a subject I suck at frankly. I'm either picking too early or much too late. Without being plant specific he lists these indicators:

1) Color: Plants have evolves to indicate to animals when the seed pods (aka the vegetable) is ready to eat, so that animals can then poop out the seeds later and propagate the plant. Look for the vegetable to turn into bright colors.

2: Death of Upper Foliage: Many underground veggie, like peanuts and potatoes, will die off once they're seed pods are mature. This has less to do with attracting animals as it is that the plant has expended all the energy it can collect growing the seeds of next year's plants.

3: Size and Age: Big is sometimes not best. Too big and old veggies can get fibrous and tough to eat. Eating them as is, pick early. Eating them later them let them grow big (beans are an example)

4) Feel: Does the fruit feel like it wants to come off? Does the fruit have a little bit of "soft" feel? Might be plump and ready. Does it feel heavy? Gourds like pumpkins will be rip when they fatten up.

5) Change of Season: Many plants can "feel" when weather changes. When the Fall has that first cold snap that lasts more than a night, it is time to check the veggies still in the garden.

6) Know the Length They Grow: Keeping good records is important. Plants, especially the typical garden favorites have been breed to harvest in a predictable fashion. Knowing their typical harvest date after planting is easier if you actually know when you planted.

7) Know What Time of Day is Best: Another thing is to know when your veggie is at peak flavor. Pick in the Morning, or pick when its cool? Different veggies will taste fresher if you know when the plant finishes its daily job of storing energy in the fruit.


That's his suggestions. What other general hints do you look for at harvest time in your garden?