How to Tell When Zucchini Is Ready to Harvest

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Zucchini, a summer squash, is an abundant producer in the home vegetable garden. Zucchinis ripen from midsummer until fall, continually blooming and producing until cold weather kills off the plant. Frequent harvesting encourages further fruit set on the plants, so pick the ripe ones daily during the height of the season. Zucchinis left too long on the plant become tough and woody, and are no longer fit for the kitchen. Harvesting the zucchinis at the proper time ensures they are also at their peak of flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Inspect the plant for zucchinis that have reached 6 to 8 inches in length, as this is the size when most varieties begin ripening. Harvest vegetables that have glossy skin and are firm, but that can still be dented with a fingernail.

  • Grasp the ripe zucchini in one hand. Cut the stem ½ inch up from the zucchini with a sharp knife. Avoid pulling on the zucchini, as this can damage both the vegetable and the plant.

  • Check the plant daily once zucchinis begin reaching maturity. Harvest the vegetables as soon as they reach maturity.

Tips & Warnings

  • Zucchini plants trained to a stake are simpler to harvest, as the vegetables are held off the ground and are both easily visible and accessible.
  • Harvest round zucchini varieties when the skin is glossy and the vegetables are approximately 5 to 6 inches in diameter.
  • Puncturing the skin on zucchinis at harvest may cause them to decline in quality more rapidly. Wear gloves to prevent damage from your fingernails so that the zucchini has a longer storage life.

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References

  • Photo Credit zucchini image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com
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