Sunday, October 7, 2007

When to Harvest Fruits and Vegetables

To obtain a quality food product from your garden for fresh use or storage, you must harvest fruits and vegetables at their proper stage of development. Improper harvesting influences quality as well as continued productivity of the plant.

When to Harvest Fruit

Apple: There is no sure method for home gardeners to determine maturity for all cultivars. If picked prematurely, the fruit is likely to be sour, tough, small and poorly colored; if picked overripe, it may develop internal breakdown and store poorly. To harvest apples correctly, you must be familiar with the term "ground color." Ground color is the color of an apple's skin, disregarding any areas that have become red. In red fruited cultivars, observe the portion of the apple that faces the interior of the tree. When the ground color of red cultivars changes from leaf green to yellowish green or creamy, the apples are ready to harvest. In yellow cultivars, the ground color becomes golden. Mature apples with a yellowish-green background color are suitable for storage. Apples will improve in storage if they are picked when hard but mature: i.e., showing the mature skin color. When harvesting, do not remove the stems from apples that will be stored.

Cherry, red, tart: The size of the fruit increases until mature. Sample the fruit to determine the proper time to harvest. It should be fully colored and flavorful as quality will not improve upon harvesting.

Currant: Harvest currants for jelly when they are slightly underripe for high pectin content. Pick them fully ripe to use for jams or if they are to be stewed. Fully ripe currants are colored, juicy and beginning to soften.

Elderberry: The fruit should be fully colored and just beginning to soften. Quality does not improve after harvest.

Gooseberry: Pick when the berries are firm and a transparent greenish-yellow with darkened seeds. Fruit of some of the newer cultivars often turns a very light to dark red when mature. Overmature fruit is purplish. Quality does not improve after harvest.

Grape: Taste grapes to determine peak ripeness. Grapes change color before they are ripe.

Peach: Ground color is the best guide for maturity. Harvest when ground color changes from green to full yellow. Red color is not a reliable index of maturity. Taste one or more of the fruits before harvesting to correlate ground color with flavor.

Pear: Harvest when the ground color changes from a dark green to a yellowish green and before the fruit is tree-ripe. Additional guides to proper harvesting time are when the fruit separates from the twig with an upward twist of the fruit and when the lenticils (spots on fruit surface) which are white or green on immature fruits, become brown.

Plum: Harvest when the flesh starts to soften. The skin changes color before the fruit is mature.

Raspberry: Harvest when the fruit is full color and separates easily from the center.

Strawberry: Harvest when uniformly red and beginning to soften. Harvest with the cap.

When to Harvest Vegetables

Asparagus: Begin harvesting the third year after planting. Harvest when the spears are 6 to 10 inches above the ground but before the heads open. Cut or snap spears off at the soil line. Stop harvesting if spears show a marked decrease in size. Maximum harvest period is 6 to 8 weeks.

Snap Bean: Harvest before pods are full sized and when seeds are tender and about one-fourth developed. Harvesting usually begins 2 to 3 weeks after first bloom. Don't allow beans to mature on plants or bean production will decrease.

Bean, lima, broad: Harvest when pods are fully developed and seeds are green and tender.

Beet: Harvest when roots are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Some cultivars may maintain quality in larger sizes.

Broccoli: Harvest when flower head is fully developed, but before the flowers begin to open. Cut 6 to 7 inches below the flower head. Side heads will develop after the main head is cut.

Cabbage: Harvest when heads are solid but before they split. On early cabbage, cut just beneath the solid head Small lateral heads will develop from buds in the axils of older leaves.

Carrot: Harvest when 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter or smaller when thinning. For storage, leave carrots in soil until a light frost occurs. Use care when harvesting, since bruising favors the development of soft rot during storage.

Cauliflower: Cover curds when they are 2 to 3 inches in diameter by tying the outer leaves loosely about the head, or using leaves from other plants in the garden. Check for developing curds every 2 to 3 days and retie if further development is necessary. Harvest when the heads are full sized but still white and smooth.

Celery: Harvest when plants are 10 to 12 inches tall.

Cucumber: Proper harvesting size is determined by product use. Pickles: Sweets are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long; Dills are 3 to 4 inches long. Fresh slicing are 7 to 9 inches long and a bright dark green. Leave a short piece of stem on each fruit. Harvest daily and don't allow fruit to mature.

Eggplant: Harvest when fruit is firm and bright purple to black in color.

Kohlrabi: Harvest when the thickened stem is 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Muskmelon: Harvest when a crack appears completely around the base of the fruit stem. The fruit will readily separate from the stem.

Okra: Harvest when 3 to 5 inches long and tender.

Onion: Correct harvesting stage is determined by the type and product use. Harvest onions grown from sets when they are 6 to 9 inches tall for immediate table use. Onions grown from seed for fresh use should be harvested when the bulbs are 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Harvest for storage (seed or set grown) when the tops have weakened and fallen over and the bulbs are 2 or more inches in diameter. Harvest before hard frost.

Parsnip: Harvest after a hard frost or in early spring before new growth starts. To harvest in spring, place a 3 to 5 inch soil mulch over the parsnips. Parsnips are not poisonous if harvested in early spring.

Pea: Harvest when the pods are fully developed and still tender, and before seeds develop fully.

Edible Pod pea: Harvest when the pods are fully developed but before the seeds are more than one-half full size.

Peanut: Harvest when plants turn yellow at season's end or before the first early frost.

Pepper, green: Harvest when fruits are full sized and firm. Red: allow peppers to remain on the plant until they become completely red. This usually requires an additional 2 to 3 weeks.

Potato: For storage, harvest when full sized with firm skins. Tubers continue to grown until the vine dies. For new potatoes, harvest at any early stage of development. This is usually when tubers are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Pumpkin: Harvest pumpkins when they are fully colored and the skins have hardened enough to resist the fingernail test. Harvest before a killing frost.

Rhubarb: Do not harvest the first year after planting; harvest only a few stalks the second year. Established plantings can be harvested for approximately 8 weeks. The quality of the stalks decreases toward the end of the harvest period. Harvest only the largest and best stalks by grasping each stalk near the base and pulling slightly to one direction. Note: there is no evidence to show that stalks harvested from frost damaged plants are poisonous, so they should be considered safe to eat.

Rutabega: Harvest when the roots are full sized but before a heavy frost.

Soybean: For fresh use, shell out just before pods begin to dry. For dried use, harvest when pods turn brown but before shattering occurs.

Squash, summer type: Harvest when fruit is young and tender. Your fingernail should easily penetrate the rind. Long fruited cultivars, such as zucchini, are harvested when 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 4 to 8 inches long; scallops are taken when 3 to 4 inches long.

Squash, winter type: Harvest when mature. The rind should be firm and glosssy and not easily punctured by your thumbnail. The portion that contacts the soil is cream to orange when mature. Leave a portion of the vine (2 to 3 inches) attached to the fruit to help prevent storage rot. Harvest squash before a heavy frost.

Sweet corn: Harvest when kernels are completely filled and in the milk stage. Use your thumbnail to determine this. The silks are dry and brown at this stage.

Sweet potato: Harvest in late fall before the first early frost.

Tomato: For peak quality, harvest 5 to 8 days after fruits are fully colored. Tomatoes lose their firmness quickly if they are overripe.

Turnip: Harvest when roots are 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Watermelon: Harvest when full sized. The portion in contact with the soil is cream to yellow when mature.

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Preparedness Quotes

"When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, 'We can’t afford it, even though we want it!' or 'We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!'" - Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2009 General Conference

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.

"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust

“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995

"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson

"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …

“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …

“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …

“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference

“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8

"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36

"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.

"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball"/>


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