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When to harvest vegetables; canning seminar

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The following list is helpful in harvesting some of the more common and trickier vegetables at their peak of freshness.

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Determining when to harvest vegetables at their peak in taste and freshness can be tricky.

The following list is helpful in harvesting some of the more common and trickier vegetables at their peak of freshness.

Asparagus: Can be harvested when spears are 6 to 9 inches tall.

Broccoli: Can be harvested before flowers show yellow color. Remove the center head and allow side shoots to form and harvest them.

Cantaloupe: Can be harvested when melons can be removed from the vine without pressure.

Cauliflower: Can be harvested before curd loosens and discolors. After head is removed, discard the plant.

Corn: Can be harvested when kernel juice is milk-like in color, silk begins to dry, and ears are full to end.

Cucumbers: Can be harvested while seeds are small, flesh is firm and color is green.

Eggplant: Can be harvested before color begins to dull: firm to touch.

Okra: Can be harvested when pods are 2½ to 3½ inches long.

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Onions: For green bunching: Can be harvested when bulbs are 3/8 to 1 inch in diameter. For storing: After the tops have died down.

Irish potatoes: Fresh use: Can be harvested after tubers are one inch in diameter. Storage: After vines have died down.

Sweet potatoes: Can be harvested after reaching desired size but before frost or cold weather, approximately 120 days from planting to harvest.

Summer squash: Can be harvested when large end is 1 to 2¼ inches in diameter.

Winter squash: Can be harvested when rind is not easily dented by fingernail.

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Tomatoes: Can be harvested when full colored but still firm.

Turnip roots: Can be harvested when 2½ to 3½ inches in diameter.

Watermelon: Can be harvested when tendrils die, rind on ground becomes yellow and netting thickens.

To learn how to can that fresh produce you may want to attend a seminar on Wednesday, June 20. This hour long seminar on canning fruits and vegetables begins at 10 a.m. and will be held at the Okaloosa County Extension Office located at 3098 Airport Road in Crestview.

Master Gardeners Bill Buckellew and Margaret Stewart will cover the art of canning fruits, tomatoes, pickles, jams, jellies and more. They’ll also discuss the basics of water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating and fermenting your produce. Learn what tools you need as well as safety in food handling and processing.

There is no cost to attend but space is limited so registration is required. Please call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at (850) 689-5850 to register.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com.

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