HAR­VEST TIME FOR FRUIT

NZ Gardener - Garden Diary 2018 - - When To Pick -

The most ex­cit­ing sum­mer ac­tiv­ity in the home or­chard is har­vest­ing. It can, how­ever, be tricky to pick the fruit at just the right time. In or­chards, grow­ers use spe­cial tools to test sugar and starch lev­els for pre­cise ma­tu­rity. In home gar­dens, per­fect pick­ing is a com­bi­na­tion of vis­ual in­spec­tion, trial (and er­ror) and ex­pe­ri­ence. Har­vest stone­fruit when the fruit gives slightly when pressed and when it has a de­li­cious, sweet aroma. Flavour is best when tree ripened, but fruit picked a lit­tle too early can be brought to ma­tu­rity by wrap­ping it in a linen tea towel or pop­ping it in a pa­per bag and leav­ing it for a few days at room tem­per­a­ture. Late in sum­mer and into au­tumn, ap­ples will be ripe. Most va­ri­eties are ready to har­vest when the skin colour on the shady side of the fruit turns from green to yel­low green. An­other tip is to check the pips – their colour turns to dark brown when the fruit is ready to eat. Pick ap­ples with stems in­tact by rolling the fruit up­wards off the spur. Pears can be trick­ier as the fruit ma­tures from the in­side, out­wards. Judge it by skin colour and taste. If the flesh close to the core is close to ready, it’s time to pick. Pears ma­ture best off the tree. Rasp­ber­ries and boy­sen­ber­ries are easy to har­vest, as the fruit is ready when it ef­fort­lessly sep­a­rates from the hull. If you have to tug the fruit, it isn’t ready. Blue­ber­ries are trick­ier. Some va­ri­eties are ready to eat when the fruit turns dark blue, while oth­ers are best left for a week or two after chang­ing colour. Taste test­ing will be your guide.

Spend the last days of 2018, look­ing back over the gar­den­ing year and pat your­self on the back for a job well done. And then start to pre­pare for a new year of fun in the gar­den that is ahead! If you want to sow seeds on Box­ing Day, sow root crops....

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