July 31, 2009

When to pick, when to pick?

"St. Valery" heirloom carrots.

When do you start digging carrots, or potatoes? When do you harvest the Brussels sprouts, and do you pull up the whole plant or try to wrench yourself around the tree-like stem and pluck off the individual mini cabbages?

"Long Island Improved" heirloom Brussels sprouts.

I think if you asked these questions to 20 experienced gardeners, you'd get 20 different answers. Part of that is because so much of it is up to personal preference. Do you like huge, sturdy carrots, or do you prefer them tender so they can be roasted to perfect sweetness? Are you going to eat the veggie right away or freeze or can it for later? Fortunately, most vegetables are good and useful at early and later stages in their development, and when you have just the two of you eating from the garden for the most part, it's nice to start harvesting early and enjoy the baby flavors, and then gradually eat through the ready crop as you need it. In this case, we'll be roasting these carrots and Brussels sprouts Jamie Oliver style.

Then there's always the plant that decides for you when it's time to harvest - like the famous zucchini plants. No joke, I think they're capable of doubling in size overnight! It's as if they love to mock you - ha, ha, you should have picked me yesterday sucker! Last Sunday at church, someone reminded me a of longstanding summer joke - don't leave your car doors unlocked in the church parking lot, or you may just find that some "thoughtful" person has left a zucchini in your back seat!

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