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When is the right time to pick my veggies and fruits?

If you are a beginning gardener, it can be so tricky to figure out when to pick your fruits and veggies. Picking them too early will mean you don’t get their full flavor. Picking too late can mean you let them rot right on the vine. There isn’t much worse than an overripe watermelon . . . ew. So, to get started – here is a list of some common veggies and fruits, and the best times to pick them.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are tricky. For your absolute best flavor, you want to pick them when they are a very deep color (whatever color you’ve chosen to grow), with no trace of green on the skin. However, if you live in a climate like, say, Idaho, where the nights get very cool, you can pick them once you see a blush of color and let them ripen indoors. Obviously, not in the fridge. Fridges are bad for tomatoes.

ripe tomatoes
Ripe tomatoes on the vine


Cucumbers: Cucumbers are actually pretty simple. As soon as they are a decent size, pick them. They will double in size overnight, too, so you have to check them pretty regularly. Also, if you let them get too large or sit too long, they will get slightly bitter and seedy, so don’t wait. A cucumber plant self-regulates how many cucumbers it will have on a plant at one time, so the more you pick them, the more you will get! Mother Earth News has a great article on cucumbers here, I highly recommend it.

Peppers: Peppers are fun. If you are growing bell peppers, let them grow and then start to turn colors. If you want a green pepper, pick them green. If you want yellow or red, wait until they turn that color, then pick them! Lol!

Bowl of peppers
Bowl of ripe peppers – yum!

Corn: Corn is ready when the ears are rounded at the base, and the fluffy stuff at the top is dark brown but not dry. You can also check the kernels if you peel them back and they look rounded and milky. Not much is better than sweet fresh garden corn.

Melons: Although, I think Melons might be a good contender for better than fresh corn. If not better, definitely equal. I found a great article on, with a breakdown of a TON of veggies and fruits and when to harvest them, (here is the article link) but here is what they had to say on melons: Cantaloupe: should be heavy and tan-colored (with a slightly yellowish tone). The cantaloupe’s netting will be slightly more raised than it was before, and it will be cracked around the stem. You will also be able to feel a softer skin toward the bottom, and they will be fragrant (I love the smell of cantaloupe). Also, they should come off the vine easily, but you don’t want them if they have already fallen off.
Watermelon: Watermelon become slightly dull, and the light patch at the bottom will change from light green to yellow when they are ready. The leaf on the tendril nearest the fruit will also turn brown and wither. The skin should be hard, as well.

Gardens are wonderful, and eating the fruits of your labor is such a wonderful experience. Learning when and how to harvest your garden is such an important part of growing one. Feel free to ask us any questions we didn’t answer, and make sure to check out the articles above! 🙂

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One thought on “When is the right time to pick my veggies and fruits?

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