Harvesting cucumbers, eggplants and melons...

·  Page 2
This article provides tips for harvesting tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, corn, and other summer vegetables.
by Brett · All Zones · Food Gardens · 2 Comments · July 12, 2012 · 5,826 views


There are two basic types of cucumbers: pickling, and slicing. When growing cucumbers, keep in mind that they grow very fast. Don't leave them on the plants too long or they can quickly become oversized.

Slicing Cucumbers

You want to pick slicing cucumbers from the plant when they are of good size and ready to use. Do not allow the cucumbers to turn yellow or orange. If you leave too many mature cucumbers on the plants they will stop producing. A general rule of thumb with slicing cucumbers is to keep them picked so that a plant has only two to three cucumber fruits growing on it at any given time. When picking a cucumber from the plant, make sure to hold the stem firmly with one hand and pull with the other.

Storage: After picking, slicing cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator wrapping in plastic wrap or in a sealed bag.

Pickling Cucumbers

The best time to pick pickling cucumbers is during the morning hours, when the fruits are firmest. It's best to pick the fruits when they are young and about 4 to 5 inches in length. The seeds on the inside should be soft.

Storage: After picking, immediately store the pickling cucumbers in the refrigerator. Don't wash the fruits until you are ready to use them.


Pick standard eggplants when the skin is glossy and tight, the fruits are about 5 inches long and, when you cut them open, the seeds are very small. If the skin has become dull you've waited too long to pick them and the fruit will have lost it's flavor. Use a sharp pair of pruners or other cutting tool to remove fruit from the plant. Make your cut leaving about 1 inch of the stem attached.

Storage: After picking, store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Regardless of the variety, keep in mind that melons need to ripen on the vine.

Muskmelon a/k/a Cantaloupe

If you want good flavor, muskmelon must be pick when they are ripe. Most of the natural sugars that make them sweet are produced in the last few days prior to harvest. Most store-bought melons are not as sweet as the ones you grow and harvest at the right time in your own garden. So, when is a muskmelon ripe? Keep in mind that if you have to work too hard to get a muskmelon off the vine that it is most likely not yet ripe. There are several indicators as to when a muskmelon is ripe but the surest sign is when a crack forms on the stem right where the stem attaches to the melon. When this crack appears it will usually be just a few days and the melon will slip off the vine with very little pressure. Too, muskmelons are ripe when the rind is tan rather than green between the surface netting.


There are several indicators that will let you know when a watermelon is ripe. When ripe, the curled tendril at the stem end dries to brown and underside has turned to a yellow or cream color. Also, you can give the watermelon a good thump and, if ripe, there will be a deep resonant sound. Most watermelons will ripen a little bit more for 2 or 3 days after they're picked.

Storage: After picking, you can store watermelons at room temperature for a few days until they are totally ripe. Then they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to several weeks until you are ready to eat them. To store them longer, watermelon can cut into pieces and frozen.


Don't pick honeydew melons too early. It's best to keep a record of your varieties "days to maturity" (usually found on the seed package) and leave the fruits on the vine for at least this length of time. There are a few signals that will let you know when a honeydew melon is ripe. Near harvest time the skin will lose it's soft fuzzy texture, become much smoother, and will have a waxy shine to it. The skin should have a creamy yellowish color near harvest time. The melon should be very fragrant. When the melon has matured it will be yellow in color with random bright yellow areas.

Storage: After picking, honeydew melons will improve for a few days if kept at room temperature. Then they can be stored in the refrigerator until you use them.

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