You’ve worked hard on that veggie patch and toiled over growing crops all summer, but as harvest season approaches, it's time to start planning your harvest and inviting all of your friends and family over to judge your worth in the garden (gulp!) But when do you pick those cool cucumbers? Are you being too excited to pluck those juicy tomatoes? Here are some common veggies you’re probably growing right now in Ontario and how to know the right time to harvest to get the best flavour and quality
Those tasty tomatoes can be hard to resist, we know, and you can probably hear your sandwiches calling out for one right now. Although they’re usually ready for harvest around 60 to 90 days after being planted, you can tell your tomatoes are ready to devour by using your five senses—especially sight and touch. You’ll know it’s time to harvest your tender reds once you can push on the flesh with some pressure and leave a dent. Another easy way is to pick your tomatoes at their mature green stage and let them ripen in a sunny window, or you can wait until their 90 percent red for an extra juicy tomato. Any longer, and they'll start to get mushy, so be careful if you wait longer. Be mindful of common garden pests that are also looking forward to your tomatoes, too!
Nothing says summer like sweet corn and backyard BBQ’s, and with the proper care, you can harvest a lot from your corn stalks from July right through September. Your corn is ready for harvest when the silks begin to turn brown but are not completely dried out and has at least one ear near the top of each stalk. For a better idea of picking time, this is usually about two-three weeks after the first silk appears. You can indicate moisture level in corn by piercing your finger into one of the kernels, too! If the moisture is viscous and not watery, your corn is ready for picking and you’re one step closer to that patio feast you’ve been waiting for.
You might want to pull out your tape measure for this one, as your zucchinis should be about 6 to 8 inches long when ready for harvesting (around 50 to 60 days after planting). Don’t go just by colour, either, for picking zucchinis, as it isn't an ideal indicator. Zucchini can be white, yellow, green, or orange when it's ready to be picked, depending on the variety. Frequently picking your summer squash crops encourages fruit production, so be prepared to eat a lot of zucchini for supper if you go this route! Leave a few fruits on the plant, though, to slow down production if you are overwhelmed, or start gifting zucchini to your friends.
These fibre-rich vegetables are ready for harvest about 70 to 80 days after planting. When ripe, the tops of your carrot roots should be about one inch in diameter, be vibrant in colour, and the buds will likely stick out of the soil. After you pick your carrots, trim the green to a height of 12 to 14 inches above the top or cut them down to an inch if you want to use the greens; the carrot will keep longer since the root won't be competing with the greens for moisture.
Cucumbers are a cool summer favourite here in Ontario and ready roughly 60 to 70 days after you plant seedlings. A ripe cucumber should be about 6 to 8 inches long and dark green without any yellow spots. If you do see yellow spots, you've likely waited too long to pick your crop unfortunately it will be overripe! As a good rule of thumb, the fruit should be firm to the touch but not rock hard, and young cucumbers will taste sweet and crisp and add the perfect flavour and crunch to any summer salad or sandwich!
Growing homegrown garden vegetables in Ontario for the first time is a journey, but we hope this harvesting guide gives you a good start to a successful harvest and many meaningful meals ahead! We also hope it gets you a passing grade among family and friends alike!
Visit us at Georgina Garden Centre today for all your garden and vegetable care needs.