February 16, 2014
Cucumber: Timing is crucial when picking cucumbers. Once flowers are pollinated, the fruit grow very quickly so check plants every one to two days. To judge readiness, see that the fruit size matches the harvest recommendations for the variety you are growing. It's okay to let some grow bigger, but not too much or they will become bitter. Snip the fruit from the vine to avoid damage and harvest regularly to keep plants productive.
Eggplant: Eggplants are ready to harvest anytime, from when the fruit start to form up to when growing to their full size. They should have a plump shiny appearance. Don't wait until they lose their shine and go hard - that's when the fruit becomes seedy, bitter and tough. Never pull them off; always prune the fruit stems with a sharp pair of secateurs to avoid damage to the fruit and bush.
Plum: For best flavour, harvest plums when fully ripe. They should be full colour (usually deep purple) with skin that is soft to touch, using gentle pressure. Pull lower branches down to pick fruit and use a ladder to access higher branches - make sure someone holds the ladder for safety. Fruit should come off easily with a short, sharp twist and pull. Store in the fridge for two to four weeks, and freeze gluts or make jams and jellies.
Pumpkin: Pick pumpkins when the fruit are swollen and the skins lack shine. Handle with care as any damage opens the fruit up to rotting organisms. Cut them off the vine with a sharp pair of secateurs, leaving a length of stem on the fruit, which will act as a seal. Eat damaged fruit first and store the remainder on a shallow bed of straw in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.