Fresh Picks: Late Summer-Early Fall Harvest Guide

Basil

Once it is in full flower, basil’s flavor may decline. Continue harvesting the flowers, which are edible. They can also be used to attract pollinators, to make a stimulating bath infusion, or to fill out any floral arrangement.

Cucumber

These vines are delicate, so it is best to harvest with scissors or a knife, rather than tugging at the fruits. Check back often once cukes start to appear (they grow quickly,) but wait to harvest until they are at least four to six inches long.

Eggplant

Harvest the fruit before it has dulled, when it is still shiny.  It can be egg-sized and up.  Cut with the stalk intact.  Do not separate the fruit from its cap.

Melons

Melon harvesting is tricky! It may take several seasons to master. One rule of thumb is to get in the habit of knocking on the developing fruits with your knuckles. If you hear and feel denseness, the melons are under-ripe. Once the melons sound and feel hollow upon knocking, they may be ready to pick. Even after reaching this hollow stage, however, melons may continue to mature on the vine, so a process of trial and error is often necessary.

Peppers

If they survive the scalding summer, peppers come out strong in fall. Sweet bell peppers in particular may shine now. Harvest by cutting each fruit’s stalk near the point where it attaches to the plant, or gently twist the stalk's midpoint until it breaks.

Pole beans

After a long growing season, pole beans may finally be ready to harvest. Often, they are hiding beneath heavy foliage, so don’t be afraid to do some searching. Snip the beans from the vine near the point of attachment to avoid cutting open the pods.

Radishes

A classic red radish is ready to harvest when it is on the small side, about an inch across near the soil’s surface. Overripe radishes will be spongy rather than crisp. Bonus: If your radishes need thinning, the thinned leafy tops are edible, as long as they have not grown tough and spiny.

Winter Squash

Most winter squash (including pumpkins) should be left out to cure in the sun even if the vine itself has died back. This allows for proper hardening. Periodically press your fingernail into a squash’s skin to determine ripeness. If your fingernail makes an impression, wait longer.
We hope you will share your own harvesting tips in the comments!

Vanessa Portillo