Tips for a Bountiful Harvest
What a great growing season we have had for our home gardens! Zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, grilled squash, peppers and eggplant, sautéed wax and green beans, BLT’s, tomato pie, and popping cherry tomatoes like candy … When the garden starts producing, we cannot wait to taste and share the goodness. But, as our yearning for fresh produce is satisfied, we start to think of preserving that fresh taste to enjoy when the garden is gone.
Tips for Harvesting Vegetables
• Harvest at the proper stage of maturity, not before or after. Harvest vegetables regularly to prolong production.
• Harvest on time. Okra, for instance, must be harvested every two or three days or some pods will grow too large and become tough and unusable, a condition that may alter future production.
• Harvest when the foliage is dry. Do not harvest when the plant is wilted. Wounds made by harvesting cause water loss. This condition can increase water stress inside the plant and lead to further damage.
• Gently remove the produce, taking care to prevent injury to the plant. Injuries can weaken the plan, causing disease and reducing future yields.
• Keep freshly harvested produce in the shade and cool to preserve quality. The quality of some products, such as green beans, can deteriorate rapidly if not kept cool.
• Use freshly harvested produce as soon as possible to preserve quality. Harvest only what you can use or preserve immediately.
• For best quality, harvest tomatoes when they are fully ripened on the vine. If harvested before they are ripe, but after they reach the mature green or pink stage, tomatoes can be allowed to ripen in a room with a temperature of around 70 degrees F. Fruit should be well-ventilated and not jammed together.
• Fully ripened fruit may be placed in the refrigerator to prolong keeping. Never refrigerate unripe tomatoes.
If you can’t use it, preserve it. In addition to the Master Gardeners Program, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers information you can trust to make your food preservation efforts safe and successful. Besides information available online, the Cobb County Extension Office is open for your questions. Visit the family and consumer sciences page at extension.uga.edu/county-offices/cobb.html or call 770-528-4070.
The Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County (MGVOCC) now offers its educational programs online via Zoom. Programs will be held the second Tuesday of the month from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on the following topics:
Aug. 11 – fall vegetable gardening
Sept. 8 – turf grass
Oct. 13 – fall is the best time to plant
Nov. 10 – composting
Pre-register online for each program and receive Zoom access information.
The UGA Extension calendar lists online statewide programs. On Aug. 12 attend the Home Food Preservation – Freezing talk to learn the basics of freezing for quality and safety. Or, attend the Green Thumb Virtual Lecture: Fall Vegetable Gardening program for information on what vegetables do best in cool weather, as well as, when to plant, how to maintain, troubleshoot and harvest. These are just two of the many, and varied, programs on the schedule. Online registration required at, extension.uga.edu/calendar.html.
The Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County support the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service and strive to improve the quality of life in our community by delivering research-based horticultural information, educational programs and projects.
– Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County is a part of the University of Georgia Extension in Marietta.