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When and How to Harvest Your Fruit Garden

Harvesting all of your delectable fruit is likely the primary reason that you began your fruit-growing endeavors. But, how do you know when and how to harvest your fruit garden so that you can enjoy and share your yield? It can be a challenge navigating what to look for to ensure the ripeness of your fruit. Check out our guide for tips and tricks for picking fruits from your garden at just the right time.

Orang persimmon hanging on a tree with fall colored red and orange leaves.

Apples

Freshly picked apples are a treasure to behold. Look for fruits with vibrant color, smooth skin, that is firm and full. Harvest apples by holding the apple from underneath and twisting to detach the stem and fruit from the branch. Store apples in the refrigerator to extend their viability and freshness.

Cherries

When you start to notice supple, juicy beauties that are shiny and uniform in color on the cherry tree, it is time for picking. Plucked off of the branch where the stem meets the branch, these long-stemmed beauties will emit a sweet fragrance. Wash in cool water and store them in the refrigerator.

Citrus Trees

Ripened citrus fruits can remain on their trees for a couple of weeks, so it isn’t necessary to harvest all of the fruits at once if you won’t be using them right away. It can be challenging to determine the full ripeness of citrus fruit, as they appear vibrant in color on the outside but may not be ready for harvest. One of the best ways to check for ripeness is to pick one and taste it during the recommended harvest timeframe. Start with citrus fruits that appear to weigh more than their size would indicate.

Remove oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and other citrus varieties from trees by gently twisting fruits one at a time off of the tree branches. If you are dealing with an easy-peel variety, you may want to snip the stem of the citrus fruit off of the branch with clippers to prevent damage to the peel.

Figs

Let figs fully ripen on the tree. Color is not the determining factor for determining the ripeness of your figs because different varieties of fig trees produce various shades of figs. When you squeeze the fig, and it is firm but has a little bit of give to the flesh, it is ready for picking. We recommend that you wear a long-sleeved shirt and garden gloves when you pick this hanging fruit because the tree sap of this fruit producer can cause irritation to the skin.

Melon fruits, cantaloupe, in a vegetable garden

Grapes

There is nothing like growing and harvesting your own juicy grapes. Check the fruited vines for grapes that are firm and plumply engorged with juiciness. Grapes should be securely attached to their stems. Harvest grapes in bunches from their main stem rather than individually.

Loquat

If you are waiting to harvest the fruit from your newly planted loquat tree, you may have to wait a while. Trees start producing fruit approximately three to five years after planting. They will be worth the wait, however. Watch for blooms to appear and wait about 90 days for fruits to bear beautiful fruits and allow them to fully ripen on the tree. When fruits become uniform in a yellow-orange color and are soft when squeezed, they are prime for picking. Snip off individual loquat or in clusters and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Melons

Melons have a few indicators that can help determine their ripeness. First, the ripe melon will emit an intoxicating aroma. Secondly, depending on the variety of melon that you are growing, it’s skin color will change hue as it ripens. Lastly, a crack will appear where the stem meets the vine. At the point of maturity, a ripe melon will easily separate from the vine with very little pressure, but cutting melons off of their vines with a sharp knife is also acceptable. Leave an inch of stem intact at the harvest point of the fruit if you don’t plan on using it right away.

Peaches

When peaches reach their peak of perfection, their soft skin is full of golden and rosy hues (and sometimes white); and they are free of greenish tones. They are supple with a slight give when you gently squeeze them. Upon using the twisting motion upon picking, the ripened peach should be easily removed from the branch.

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Ripe pomegranate on the branch. The foliage on the background.

Passionfruit

Passionfruit comes in colorful varieties that range from deep purple to golden yellow hues and they release themselves from their branches when they are fully ripe. They can also be hand-twisted off of the branch when the fruits have fully ripened and changed in color from their young green color to the blackish-purple or golden peaks. Leave them on the counter for a couple of days, prior to refrigerating to give the fruit a more robust sweetness.

Persimmon

When it comes time to harvest persimmon, it is helpful to know if you are growing an astringent or non-astringent variety, as they have different parameters for harvest. Astringent persimmons should be picked off of the tree when their flesh is soft and skins are thinned. Astringent varieties will even drop their own fruit which is the premier indication that it is harvest time. Non-astringent varieties are often Asian species and the are best harvested when they are robustly colored but firmer to the touch than their cousins.

Persimmon may drop their own fruit, leaving gardeners to gather up the bounty from the ground. If persimmons are still hanging on to the tree branches, use a clipper to snip the top of the stems from the branches, leaving the stems intact on the fruits. Fruits not at their prime when picked will continue to ripen off the tree and can be store in the refrigerator.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate is another fruit that requires a lot of patience, yet this superfruit really comes through with rewards for gardeners. After planting a pomegranate tree, it will take about four years or more for the tree to become a mature producer of fruit. Once it starts to flower, the large succulent fruits can take up to 7 months until they’re ready for harvest. When picking pomegranates, select fully ripe fruits that are a deep red color, and make a tiny sound when you knock on them.


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Pomegranate hanging on tree with text, "Harvesting fruit 101"
Fig tree with text, "Beginners Guide to harvesting fruit"

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