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How do you know when it is time to harvest? (zucchini)

 
Posts: 278
Location: South Central Kansas
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Anyone have a list besides a calendar?

Such as best time to harvest for longevity.
Best time to harvest for immediate eating.

Similar.
 
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Depends.  Watermelon, you wait until the belly spot turns from pale green to yellow.  Some cantaloupes "slip" from the vine, and some don't.  Irish potatoes, you dig when the greenery is about half yellow.  Sweet potatoes, you dig right before the first frost.  Yellow summer squash, watch it turn from pale yellow to bright yellow, then jump backwards in time a day or so.  And so on.
 
Kai Walker
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Location: South Central Kansas
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Terri Pine wrote:Depends.  Watermelon, you wait until the belly spot turns from pale green to yellow.  Some cantaloupes "slip" from the vine, and some don't.  Irish potatoes, you dig when the greenery is about half yellow.  Sweet potatoes, you dig right before the first frost.  Yellow summer squash, watch it turn from pale yellow to bright yellow, then jump backwards in time a day or so.  And so on.



Personally I was thinking about Zucchini. Wife says about 8" long.

And carrots - unless I pull one I have no idea when to pull them.
 
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I pick zucchini when they get big enough to be worth eating and not too big.  I attempt to always pick them before they get to 14".

You can figure out something about the size of the carrot by pinching it an inch underground to feel the diameter.  Or move aside a bit of soil until you can see the size of the top of the root.
 
pollinator
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Kai, zucchini is one of those veggies that can be harvested at any stage. It all depends on what you intend to do with it. Super baby zucchini with the blossoms still attached are a real pricy gourmet item in some locations. I prefer my zucchini when they are 5 to 6 inches long. Locally the people around me prefer to buy them 8" to 10" long.

I've used the jumbo ones the size of clubs 15" long or there abouts as disposable serving platters (like a scooped out boat) for taking potato salad to a community picnic. The leftover zucchini boat usually gets taken home buy someone to be chopped up into a stir fry, or made into pickles.

Zucchini is quite versatile. But if allowed to fully mature, it's not as enjoyable to use for eating. Unlike winter squash which usually stores well, I find that zucchini deteriorates quickly on the inside. But as long as the interior around the seeds hasn't started to rot, the flesh is edible and good for baking, stir fry, soup, pickles, etc.

 
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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With zucchini, it depends how many plants you have, in order to make a meal of them.  The more plants, the smaller you need to pick them so as not to be over-run!  Unless of course you have a recipe to use up large amounts such as jam or drying them.
 
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any size you like, if you leave them on the plant the skin will harden and they store for a couple of months. But the plant will not produce more.
 
Kai Walker
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Skandi Rogers wrote:any size you like, if you leave them on the plant the skin will harden and they store for a couple of months. But the plant will not produce more.



We usually pick them when they are nearly 8" long.

Wife slices & fries them in butter.

I always try to plant far more than we could ever eat.

Rather give a lot away than not have enough.

This year, if things do well, I plan on donating excess to a food handout place for the hungry people.
 
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One of the reasons I like to pick zucchini and squash when they are smaller is because the seeds are smaller.  Zucchini is probably not as bad as a large crook neck squash.  I have had some that even when cook the seeds were almost inedible.
 
pollinator
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I like to harvest zucchini when they are about 8" long. I find the very small ones to be bland. If they do become very large, I just quarter it lengthwise and cut out the seedy area, the rest still tastes fine, especially fried.
 
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I love this topic! My first year growing squash/zucchini I had no idea and didn't bother to ask. I let my gray Mexican squash grow and it got to be a foot long and several inches around! One day I was in the grocery store and imagine my surprise when I saw some on the shelf and it was all about 4" long. Ooops.

At that point I decided to learn about squash and make sure I knew the best size for the type I was growing. This year I have Raven Zucchini and Zephyr Squash, and like others here said, it's supposed to be harvested when it's between 5-8" long for best taste and texture.

Now I need to figure out how to keep the plants under control...
 
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A lot of squashes can be harvested at any stage. Even luffa (loofah? I spell it in my native tongue and forget the "American" version) sponge squash can be stir fried when it's still small. Male squash blossoms can be stuffed and fried for a yummy fritter. The winter storage squashes, I wait til absolutely last minute before the winter rains get really bad, and bring them into the house to cure. It's quite a sight, because there are pumpkins and winter squashes on every surface.

I like the kind of produce that I can pick at varying degrees of ripeness, or let them go to seed. It just makes life a bit easier, when I can thin out the onion bed and end up with garnish for my stir fry, or if I can dig up a couple of potatoes when they're still small and tender and I want new potatoes with my herring, and let the adjacent ones grow to full size for storage, and can pick pea sprouts, or thin new pea pods, or plump shelling peas, or let them dry for seed and dry peas, and so on. It adds flexibility that you don't really get at the store. They're all very standardized there. That's why I always start with the shelf at the supermarket that has their "blemished, under-sized, and lopsided" produce bagged for quick sale for the "exotics" that I'm not growing right now. I sometimes score a whole big bag of organic mushrooms or limes for $1, because they're "ugly".

I remember when the elderly lady nextdoor gave me some zucchini that was way too big. They were almost as big as my then one year old. Obviously, they were woody, and the seeds were all big and chewy. I peeled it, grated the flesh around the seeds, and used it in homemade bread. They might have become an okay relish, if cubed and pickled, too, but I would rather let my chickens have their way with it when it gets that big.
 
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You've got to be able to see the darn fruit to pick it.  Brother-in-law gave me seeds a few years back and I let it loose in my meadow, but didn't mow.  The plant itself grew so fast, it appeared to be trying to escape down the driveway, but the fruit was nearly invisible till way too big, and the chickens got to feast on them that year.

This year, I'm better prepared and excited to have starts that are already blooming before even in the ground.

I bought a jar of zucchini relish last year at a church bazaar, and it has graced my sandwiches this year.  I found a recipe and intend to make my own.  Yum!
 
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