Dig a trench and sow a seed, year by year we learn what we need. Vine plants only come up one year at a time, but the harvest may be plenty of popular produce. The pods produced on many of vine plants produce plenty of product for years to come.
Vine vegetables tend to be one of the easiest to identify when the plants are ready to pick, but most need a little experience to tell the difference between fair tasting peas and perfectly pick-able peas. Spend some time glossing over some of these tid bits to help you get the best flavor filled food. If you are new to gardening you may wonder why we gardeners pick our produce in the cool early morning air. This is the best time to pick when the best flavor is found in the vegetables and will also store and keep better than produce picked later in the day.
Harvesting Vine Vegetables
- Cucumbers: One of the most desirable for picking for pickles and also terrific to add to salads or just plain slicing cukes. Picking the perfect cucumber is determined not just by the time, but also for the use. Typically you can begin picking as small as 2 inches depending on the intention behind the usage of the cucumber, but DON’T let them turn yellow and don’t let the spines get too tough.
- Harvest Time: Late June through September
- Size: Pickling 2-3 inches long
Dill Pickles 4 – 6 inches long
Slicing 6 – 8 inches long (as thick as approx 2 1/2 inches)303
- How to Pick: A gentle twist or an easy snip with scissors or a knife helps to release these delectable delights from the vines.
- Green Beans: A special favorite of mine that can be used in tons of dishes, but the most common dish they are found in is green bean casserole (which for most is a love/hate taste). Pick as often as you like and experience will tell you when the flavor is best. If the seeds develop to much the beans can be quite tough, but can be advantageous in canning.
- Harvest time: Early July to late September
- How to Pick: Gently grasp the green bean pod with one hand and grip the attached vine to separate carefully causing no damage as long as capable.
- Melons: are some of the most succulent flavored in a vegetable garden and can be some of the most difficult to grow, but they are well worth the effort. There are also countless varieties of melons, from muskmelons, honey dew and watermelons among the most popular.
- Time of year: Early August to mid-September
- How to Pick: Muskmelons require but a simple twist as well as will some of the watermelons, otherwise to prevent any spread of disease a nice swift snip of a scissors is always a solid approach.
- Signs of Ripeness:
Muskmelon/Cantaloupe: ready when the vine twists off gently, a netting pattern appears raised on skin and then becomes tan colored.
Honeydew: loose seeds rattle with ripeness, soft veining only felt by tough, creamy yellow skin color
Watermelon: fruit color becomes dull, when thumped sounds hollow, when part sitting on the ground becomes creamy yellow not white, stops growing (they will not ripen after picked), if rind scratches with thumbnail with little resistance & shows green/white under skin
- Peas: A divine favorite of my wife’s and daughters and like green beans can be used in quite a number of dishes and are especially good eaten fresh.
- Time of year: Early June to end of July
- How to Pick: Peas are picked basically identically to green beans, just carefully separate the pods from the vine attaching to prevent and damage to the plant. Once picked cool quickly to retain optimum flavor.
- Signs of Ripeness: filling with seeds (much like green beans you will need to test them to learn what flavor size is best. Typically once peas reach a point that the seeds “almost” fill the peas at full maturity length they are at their sweetest.
With time each individual that chooses to plant produce finds techniques for the tastiest treats from their garden.