Whether in your garden or at the grocery store, picking produce at the optimal time helps ensure maximum enjoyment. Harvest your fruits and veggies just as they ripen for the best flavor, texture, and juiciness. But how do you know when the time is right? Take advantage of our tips to help you identify the peak of ripeness for a variety of produce – and keep your garden in good growing condition before and after picking.

All About Tomatoes 

It can be difficult to judge a tomato’s readiness by its appearance since there are so many varieties – and in countless colors. Tomatoes are ready to be picked when they can be pulled from the stem with little or no resistance. They should also yield just a bit to the touch. Beefsteaks and other larger tomato varieties require more time to ripen than smaller ones. While these juicy fruits do continue to ripen after being picked, they taste best after ripening on the vine in the sun.

The Watermelon Test

Watermelons can be watery and flavorless if not picked at the proper time. Test watermelons for ripeness simply by tapping on them. A ripe melon should sound hollow and have some heft to it; this rule may not apply to icebox watermelons and other smaller varieties. Check the bottom for a yellow spot where it rested on the ground.

Love Your Lettuce 

Harvest lettuce before hot weather causes it to bolt, or grow a flower stalk and go to seed. Bolting causes lettuce to taste bitter, so consider applying shade cloth to delay the process. Pick lettuce when leaves grow to about four or five inches in length, usually about 40 days from when it’s seeded.

Other Tips for Harvesting Your Garden

Each plant has an ideal harvesting time, and varieties of the same plant can even have different harvesting guidelines. File your seed packets away for easy access to harvesting info and other details. Check your garden every day to ensure timely picking. You’ll get perfectly ripe produce and encourage plants to become more productive. Also, don’t forget to fertilize your soil routinely throughout the season – even after fruit appears. For healthy soil and healthy produce, choose from the many types of garden fertilizers we have to offer.