If the produce in your garden is ready, pick it now
When garden produce is ready, don't hesitate too long before you harvest.
'Regular picking encourages fruiting vegetable plants such as cucumbers, squash, bush beans, peppers, broccoli, and eggplant to produce more,' explained Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the OSU Extension Service.
Don't let that big one get away. Pick all the fruits, because even a few mature fruits on a cucumber plant will stop new fruit from setting. For example, once a zucchini starts going to seed, the plant is triggered into a different growing stage and won't develop any more squash.
How can you tell the vegetables are ready for picking? Look for the following qualities when harvesting vegetables:
Bush beans - pick when two or three inches long.
Squash - summer squash is ready when medium-sized with a rind that is easily dented with a fingernail. Winter squash is ready when rind is firm enough that it can't easily be dented with a fingernail.
Tomatoes - Size is not a good indication of maturity. Look for proper color. Tomatoes can be picked at any degree of ripeness, but taste best when ripened on the vine.
Cucumbers - Pick before they turn yellow; small to medium are good eaten fresh.
Broccoli - Stalks ready for picking should be firm, but tender. Buds at the tops of the stalk should be compact and not showing the color that would indicate the plant is flowering. Cut the central head just before it separates into several heads. After that, cut the side shoots that develop into small heads.
Eggplants - Ready when dark and shiny.
Peppers - Usually mature late. The green varieties should have a shiny color and be firm. Red varieties should have a uniform red color before harvesting.