It’s starting to feel like we’re in the peak of summer. Some of us are even caught up in heat waves. And with summer moving along, it’s time to take a look at our summer squash–specifically, for the signs that it’s time to start harvesting your zucchini and other summer squash. [photo via wiki commons]
You should begin harvesting when the summer squash is still immature. These kinds of vegetables taste best when you harvest them young, before the seeds are fully developed. This will help produce tender vegetables. With winter crops, they mature on the vine, all while developing a tough skin to survive the cold months. Summer squash is the complete opposite. They’re allowed to grow large, and even gourd-like. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make for an edible product. When you notice that the skin of the summer squash is soft enough to be penetrated by a thumbnail, it’s time to harvest. Zucchini, a kind of summer squash, should be picked when it’s about four to six inches long.
Remember that harvesting increases yields on vegetable plants. The more you pick at your summer squash, the more the plant will remain in production all season long. Squash grows very quickly, so you’ll need to check your garden every day or two. You’ll also need to begin harvesting multiple times a week. Another tip to remember when harvesting is that you should use caution when cutting the vegetable from the vine. Cut the stem about an inch above each vegetable with a paring knife or garden shears. You don’t want to yank or twist the squash, because that could rip or damage the plant. We recommend wearing gloves, since the stalks could scratch or irritate your hands.
It’s clear that the key to producing a successful garden is giving your plants the proper care it deserves. This, of course, includes knowing the right time to begin harvesting. If you start too early or too late, you risk destroying the crop completely. You want your plants to survive the season, so take the necessary steps to ensure that. If you want to end up with delicious summer squash on your dinner plate, keep a watchful eye on your crops and look for the proper signs that indicate it’s time to get started.