I’ve been gardening nearly my entire life, but vegetables are still a tricky thing here. As we prepare for another growing season here at Rock Father HQ, we’ll be planting more veggies, and part of the challenge is always the harvest. What’s properly ripe? Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables (out May 8, 2017 via Cool Springs Press) aims to help home gardeners take some of the mystery out of things.
From the Publisher: Even the most experienced homegrowers get a little apprehensive when harvest time comes around. You’ve spent so much time and energy and money to grow beautiful produce and now the moment of reckoning is at hand. Savvy shoppers looking for the best produce have similar concerns as they peruse the aisles. It is ripe and ready to be picked or bought. Or is it? Maybe that tomato will be bigger or sweeter on Tuesday than it was on Sunday. Or maybe it will soften too much or fall off the vine or split, or wrinkle up in the produce bin. You know that once you make the decision to pluck your fruit from the vine or buy there is no going back. So you want to make sure you are doing it at the right time.
Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables helps you prepare for those moments of decision-making in your garden and at the market. Inside, you will find hundreds of beautiful photos that show you what your cherished produce should look like when it is ready for picking and buying, along with tips and clues to help you interpret what your plants are trying to tell you. Whether you garden in a Square Foot box, plant a conventional garden, or stick to the grocery-store produce section, ripe is ripe. This visual guide is your tool for picking and buying produce with confidence.
- Asaparagus can be a tricky veggie to harvest correctly. There is a definitive harvest starting and stopping point and you need to harvest regularly to ensure it doesn’t grow tough and inedible. Asparagus takes two years to establish.
- “Ripe” is relative with basil. Leaves are just as flavorful small or large. As soon as the plant has at least six leaf pairs, begin harvesting by cutting back to about half its height.
- Eggplant: regardless of shape or mature color – eggplants are all harvested the same way. It’s best to pick them slightly early – because overripe eggplants are bitter. Once color is set and the skin is glossy – it’s ready to be picked.
- Strawberries don’t ripen after you pick them. In fact they deteriorate in quality the moment the strawberry is picked. Ripe berries will be uniformly red, with no whiteness or green spots. Harvest strawberries in the morning. Keep newly harvested strawberries out of the sun and don’t crowd the harvesting container, because strawberries bruise easily.
- You can harvest sweet potatoes any time after they get big enough to eat – but it’s best to wait until after the leaves have started to yellow.
- Smell your tomatoes – a subtle indicator. Unripe tomatoes have virtually no smell.
Page after page details the gritty details, little known secrets, and often subtle hints that scream Ripe!