the Time Is Ripe:
Harvesting Vegetables for Best Flavor
fruits and vegetables have ways of telling us exactly when they taste best, even
before we’ve picked them. Learning to recognize these signs takes practice,
however. Even the most experienced gardeners might need several tries before
they can capture that brief moment between the time a not-quite-ready melon
tastes bland and when it is sickeningly overripe. Many factors affect flavor in
your vegetables: seed variety, soil type, temperature, season, amount of water,
sunlight, and whether they are grown outdoors or in a greenhouse. At harvest
time, however, the most important things to consider are time of day, and
With few exceptions, vegetables
are best harvested in the cool morning hours so that they stay crisp and store
longer . If harvested too late, they become limp and wilt quickly, having
evaporated much of their moisture and absorbed the midday heat. This is
especially important for leafy greens like lettuce, chard and fresh herbs such
as parsley and basil. It also applies to crisp fruiting vegetables like peas,
and anything in the cabbage family like broccoli and radishes.
If a morning harvest is impossible
to fit into your schedule or lifestyle, pick in the evening after the heat of
the late afternoon sun has begun to wane. Other fruiting vegetables such as
tomatoes, peppers and zucchini are less sensitive to wilting, so they can be
picked later in the day. So can root vegetables like carrots, but make sure to
get them out of the sun and into the refrigerator quickly, particularly if the
weather is warm.
for ripeness involves all the senses: from tapping and smelling melons to
puncturing corn kernels and recognizing the perfect plumpness of a pea! After
enough practice and plenty of tasting, you’ll find that your hands learn to find
beans of the perfect thickness on their own.
Click for more harvesting information.
Enter our 8th Annual Photo Contest
So many people write to tell us about their success with our
seeds that we'd like to see your results. We invite you to enter your favorite
photo that includes a
Renee's Garden variety in our 2011 photo contest. The grand prize
is a $50 gift certificate. All entries will receive a complimentary packet of
seeds (one per person) so don't delay! Deadline for
entries is September 15, 2011. We will feature the winning photos in our October
Please include no more than three photos with your
entry. Include your full name, mailing address, email, the Renee's Garden
seed variety pictured and any additional descriptive comments.
TO ENTER: Email your photo and info to: email@example.com
Current Renee's "Sunny
Supersett" squash on the right, potential
new seed on
of India" nasturtium trial: Note the poor quality of
the test in front compared to the Renee's variety in back.
July in the Trial Garden – Comparing Current and Test Varieties
by Lindsay Del
Carlo, Trial Garden Manager
To ensure we are selling the very best seeds, we regularly grow
out the same variety from different seed producers to see which
is the best strain for our packets. This summer, we've grown "Cherries
Jubilee" nasturtiums from two different vendors to
evaluate. Now that both are in full bloom, we can see that our
current Renee’s Garden selection has the characteristics that we
are looking for: plants are very uniform in germination and
growth habit and the pretty blossoms are super abundant, and
open well above the foliage for a better massed color effect.
The other test selection germinated and grew well and the
flowers have good color, but the blossoms are less prominent and
more hidden in the foliage. So in this case, we will definitely
stay with our current seed producer for this variety.
We are also growing out our crookneck summer squash variety,"Sunny
Supersett" to comparison to a newer selection of
yellow crookneck squash. Our Supersett germinated very quickly
with uniform, vigorous plants and abundant, early fruit set and
overall it is consistent with what it should be. However, in
comparing the varieties side by side, we see that the new trial
variety has some very favorable differences. The little sunny
squashes have more slender and graceful crooks and somewhat
deeper color. Also, the stems of the squash are longer than the
current Renee’s Garden variety which makes them much easier to
snip from the plant. So the next step, which is always our
favorite part, is to do some serious taste testing. If the
flavor wins us over, then we may choose to change the variety
that we offer.
Another comparison trial is Renee’s Garden ‘Empress
of India’ Nasturtium alongside another seed growers
selection of the same variety. This classic Nasturtium has
beautiful blue-green leaves with rich, vermilion- red flowers.
Here we can see that the plants from the other vendor’s seed are
small and quite stunted. With this lack of vigor, it is no
question that we would stick with our current grower!
Jubilee" Nasturtium - trial in back, Renee's variety in
The winner - profuse blossoms are set nicely above leaves
Recipe of the Month
Easy to make and very low in calories, these make a fine
lunch or brunch dish.
On Renee's Blog
Sue Shecket, our Webmaster and NW Trial Gardener shares her
challenges in this especially challenging gardening year in: "Summer
- Sort Of - in Seattle"
Click Here to view
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Renee's Garden Seeds, 6060 Graham Hill Rd., Felton, CA 95018