Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Harvesting Vegetables

We are so grateful for your service this summer by helping us remove the bermuda grass and other weeds from the beds. To show our appreciation, we invite you to pick some incredibly tasty organic vegetables from our garden. 

I would like to remind you of a few things, and then include some pictures and videos to help you know when to harvest. 

  • Communicate with people working during your week so that you know you are sharing the crops fairly, but also make sure that no vegetables are just going to the waste.
  • Some vegetables do well in the ground longer, and some need to come so that the crops continue to produce. I will outline each vegetable we have in the ground, and try my best to explain when to pick. Remember, experience will always be your best teacher.
  • Don't pull the plant with the vegetable. Use clippers or twist, but don't pull. ;)  
  • If you find that vegetables aren't producing fruit like you would imagine they should be, they might need more fertilizer. Refer to the fertilizer post and video for that instruction
  • The longer the plant is in the ground, the longer it extracts nutrients from the ground, into the fruit. Therefore, the longer you can wait, the better for your health. However, sometimes this means it might be "strong" or even tough. 
  • When you see a bloom, this is the beginning of a fruit. A fruit is the reproductive organ of the plant. In many cases, we call these vegetables, because of the way they are grown. But, they're all the fruit of our plants. 

In order of back (near the fruit tress) to front (by the large "cash crops") in the garden: 

Pears: When they look like they do in the store, pick them. (size of your fist) These pears will be great for canning or making pies, but probably not raw. They are tough and a little gritty. 

Peaches: Same as above. They should be about the size of an apple, and their flesh should be a light orange-red color. Apply a small amount of pressure to the fruit. If it gives, it is ripe. Don't damage the fruit when you check it. If you do, pick it, or it will invite bacteria and rot. 

Squash: Pick it when it is small for the best flavor. What is "small?" About the size of your entire hand. This all depends on your taste preference. Additionally, the longer they sit on the ground, the longer they have time to rot. The more you pick, the more will grow. There should be 1-2 squash per day if they are being fed right. 

Zucchini: Same as squash. It is essentially the same vegetable. 

Peppers (all): The longer you can wait on these, the better. Peppers are a great (the best) source of vitamin C that we can find. The longer they grow, the more potent they become. However, if you need it for your dinner that night, peppers are great because their taste stays consistent from the beginning of its fruit to the very end, unlike other fruits and vegetables. 

Strawberries: The redder the better! Wait until they are RED! Be sure and leave NO openings in the screen. Coons, possums, skunks, and mostly, BIRDS like to eat this very uneconomical crop. 

Sweet Peas: Size of your thumb

Corn: When the corn is about the size of a 20 oz coke bottle. (When it looks like it does at the store). Take some clippers or a pocket knife that you might have and cut it off the stalk. 

Green Beans: There are yellow and green. When they are about the size of a crayon or a little large, pick them. They taste great raw and have so much more nutrition, like all vegetables, if you can eat them raw. 

Dill: The closer to the ground that you can pick this, the better. You want to pick more leaves, less stems for the best taste. 

Tomatoes: Look for color. When they are red, pick them. However, if you notice throughout the summer that other critters are ruining the crop, pick them and let them ripen in a window. Birds like these, but again the longer they're in the ground the more nutrition you'll receive. 

Eggplant: These are about the same as squash. When they are the size of a 20 ox coke bottle, they are ready. You can let them get bigger. We have white and purple. The white ones are the plants that earned their name, "egg" plant! 

Tomatillos: When these are ready, they should be about the size of cherry tomato. 

Okra: Pick these when they are the length of about two of your thumbs. The longer you wait to pick these, the tougher they did. 

Enjoy your harvest! When in doubt, just try it! The fruit will get about the size of the leaf on the plant, as the leaf is what makes the food for the plant via photosynthesis. 

Thanks again for your service! You are changing the lives of kids! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! It is being moderated for approval for the safety of the students.