How to Tell When Your Fruits and Vegetables are Ready to Harvest

How to Tell When Your Fruits and Vegetables are Ready to Harvest


[Music] I love this time of year. Now’s the moment when
all that hard work earlier on this season is finally paying off,
with harvests coming thick and fast. But how do you know when it’s the perfect
time to harvest your crops? In this video we’ll show you how to tell when your
produce is ready, so you can pick, pluck or pull up your homegrown food at its prime. For some crops, deciding when to pick is simply a matter of personal preference. Chard for example is ready whenever the leaves have reached a usable size, while radishes can be harvested once they’re big enough to slice up into salads, But other fruits and vegetables require a little more observation. When it comes to root vegetables,
size matters! Beets and turnips can be pulled at any
point from golf-ball-sized up, with smaller roots proving especially tender. But don’t let the roots grow any larger than a tennis ball
as they’ll become tough and woody. Dig up carrots as they reach usable size. You can leave maincrop varieties
in the ground until you’re ready to use them . Enjoy parsnips
any time after the leaves have died back, though for the sweetest, melt-in-the-mouth roots,
wait until after the first frosts, which improves the flavor. The earliest new potatoes are usually
harvested about 10-12 weeks after planting, when the plants come into flower. You can judge how big the tubers
are by carefully pulling back the soil to expose a few at the sides. Enjoy them once they reach the size of a hen’s egg. Maincrop varieties for storing should
be lifted only after the foliage has died back, around 20 weeks after planting. Check they are ready by rubbing the skin with your thumb. If the skin doesn’t rub off,
they’re ready to lift. Check whether peas and beans are good to go by
literally getting to grips with their pods. Feel the pods to judge the size of the
developing peas, then shell a few to double-check. The same goes for fava, or broad beans. The pods of climbing beans are the opposite. They should be long and smooth
without beans bulging inside, but don’t let them get too long
or the pods will become stringy and the plants less productive. For other fruiting vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, be guided by skin color. Look for a good even color over the entire fruit. Traditional varieties of cucumber
are ready when there is no pronounced point at the tip. Pick them small for snacking cucumbers, or leave them to grow larger for slicing. Many gardeners pick zucchini (or courgettes)
far too big – and it’s easily done! But the best tasting zucchini are picked
soon after they reach about 4 inches (10cm) long. Summer squashes can be harvested as soon as they
reach a desirable size. Leave winter squashes on their plants until late autumn. They can be protected with a row cover. They’re ready when the stem has died off and
hardened, and if you push your thumbnail into the skin it should
dent, but not puncture it. Perfectly ripe sweet corn is a seasonal treat like no other. Find out whether they’re ready to pick once the tassels
at the end of the cob have shriveled up. At this point, carry out the fingernail test. Peel back the sheath and sink your nail into a kernel. If it exudes a milky liquid it’s ready
to pick and enjoy. If the liquid is clear, wait a little longer. Loose leaves of cut-and-come-again salads are best enjoyed while they are still young and tender, while heart-forming salads such as lettuce should
be cut as soon as the heart has begun to firm up. In all cases, for the most succulent salad leaves
pick them early in the morning. Cut cabbages as soon as the fleshy
leaves have formed a tight, firm head. Winter frosts help to enrich the flavor of Savoy types, so leave these in the ground
until you’re ready to eat them. Cabbage family plants producing flower
buds such as calabrese, broccoli or cauliflower should be picked while the
buds are still tightly closed. Garlic, onions and shallots may be dug up as
soon as the foliage starts to die down in late summer for using fresh. For storing, wait two weeks
once the foliage has turned yellow and toppled over, Then dig up the bulbs and cure them for storing in a cool dry place. Check whether tree fruits
like apples and pears are ready by cupping a fruit in the palm of your hand
and twisting gently. If it easily comes away it’s ready. Softer tree fruits such as peaches and nectarines are ready when they become
slightly softer at the stalk end of the fruit. Use your senses to pick soft
fruits at their prime. Berries and currants should be evenly colored. Raspberries will come away easily from their plug, while blackcurrant should be left a week
after turning black to fully develop their flavor. Blueberries develop their best flavor
two or three days after turning blue. After so long tending your crops,
you deserve to enjoy them at their peak! Pick your produce when it’s perfectly ripe and ready, and you’ll be enjoying food that’s got the
best flavor and the most nutritional benefit. Now, please do tell us in the comments section below
what you’ve been growing this year, and how you make the most of it. And are you subscribed to our video channel?
If not, why not? Make sure you hit that subscribe button for lots more gardening videos. In the meantime, enjoy all that homegrown goodness. I’ll catch you next time. [Music]