Illinois plant expert: Here's when to harvest vegetables from home gardens

Tomato plant on a city patio
Photo credit Getty Images

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Ken Johnson, a plant expert with the University of Illinois Extension, has some tips regarding when to harvest vegetables from your home garden.

Johnson said timing, as well as a keen eye on temperatures, are key.

Tomatoes, for example, should ripen on the vine — unless it gets too hot.

"Tomatoes should be firm and fully colored,” Johnson said. “In most cases this is going to be red. When we start getting hot temperatures, usually in the 90s, tomatoes are going to quickly soften, and the color is going to be reduced.”

Johnson said when the temperatures are above 90, it's better to let tomatoes ripen indoors.

He recommended checking cucumber plants daily once they start producing. Johnson said gardeners should pick cucumbers before the skin turns yellow.

Snap or green beans should be harvested when the pods are fully grown, he said, but before the seeds start to get large.

He said green peppers should be picked when they are firm and between three and four inches long, while the time to harvest squash is when they are small and tender.

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