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How Do I Know When to Pick Certain Veggies?

in a nutshell my grandfather died last wednesday and he was the gardener. I am staying with my grandmother right now to keep her company as well as watch over the garden. but I'm not really sure about what I'm doing and when I should pick stuff... like the jalapenos, can I just pick them when their fully green? there is also red bell peppers , small red pappers onions, butternut and another kind of squash. as well as tomatoes.
also can I pick all the onions when their big and white or will that kill them? I'm sorry I domt know anything about this :(

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Angelkiss, I am sorry to hear about your grandfather; I'm sure you and your grandmother are going through a difficult time, and my heart goes out to you.

Your primary concern, especially given your stated location, is to make certain to water everything. Did your grandfather have an automatic water system? If not, you'll want to give everything a slow, deep drink.

I don't know about all peppers, but the hot peppers are generally ready to pick when they are red. They can be picked sooner, but you don't have to. The tomatoes are probably ready when they are red, unless they are a uniformly yellow tomato. Just don't pick them when they are green. There are a few varieties, I think, of green tomatoes, but they aren't all that common.

Your grandfather probably had a local gardening friend; most of us do. Ask your grandmother. If not, you might want to contact your county extension agent or the Biology department at the local college. Someone can come out and advise you on what to do with the garden and how to finish caring for it. Oh. Many communities have gardening clubs, too. Your county extension agent will know if there is one in your area. Your best bet will be to find someone local, someone who can look at the plants and advise you onsite.

In the meantime, though, make sure everything has water. Good luck!

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I think it's great that you want to take care of (or finish) grandpa's garden.

Yes, pick those Jalapenos when green... they are usually just as tasty small, as when they get a bit larger. They can get a bit "woody" (with rough skin) if left on the plant too long.

When time permits, you might enjoy reading a good "general interest" book on gardening... there are a lot of them out there. You could pick up a lot of practical information about gardening that way, and would probably also give you a greater appreciation of what grandpa accomplished.

all the best to you and your family.

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I'm so sorry that you and your grandmother are going through this. At least the two of you are together.

But a large garden is a lot of work, and it represents a lot of knowledge. Does Grandmother have any knowledge? She may be unwilling/unable to work in the garden right now, the loss being so recent, but maybe she can give you some guidance in picking the vegetables that are ready to come in.

If you live regularly with Grandmother and want to take on the garden for the two of you, the Sunset Western Garden Book will be a great help. There is a section for new gardeners ("A Practical Guide to Gardening"), a set of Sunset climate maps (Sunset climate zones are much more helpful and precise than the USDA zones), and specific information on annuals, perennials, and anything else you might want to grow. Lots of photos, too, and illustrations.

Just reading through Sunset's website (the garden tab) can give you a general idea of what activities take place during what months of the year in your area, but specifics would be found in the Sunset book.

I'd suggest following through on Stella's recommendations for friends of Grandfather who knew him and his garden, finding county resources on gardening, and looking for a possible county Master Gardener volunteer program. These are usually phone-in situations, but sometimes on-site visits can be arranged. Such a Master Gardener would be able to give you valuable information on the plants in the ground. If you can get a personal visit, be sure to take all kinds of notes and pictures; you'll most likely be inundated with information within 10 minutes. But it's a good inundation, so as long as you have the notes, the Sunset book, and us here at the forum, everything in the garden should work out well.

My condolences on your loss.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I'm sure that it would have made your grandfather, being a gardener, very happy to know that his granddaughter was learning about gardening by finishing the last one he started.

As the others here have said, friends and regional information are great resources. I'll offer what advice I can, as well.

Jalapenos: When they are green and about 3 in. or so long, they are ready to pick. If you see thin, white "cracks" on them, they are starting to get "woody," another sign you can pic them. I've tried to leave them to turn red, but they always just got so many cracks that I would just pick them green.

Bell peppers: These can be picked whenever they look like the size you would like. Red bell peppers will start out green, reach a max size, then start turning red. You can pick them red or green, but they taste better red.

Onions: The onions will grow as long as they are sending out leaves from the tops. They can be harvested any time, but here is how to get the max size from them: Once the leaves on top of the onions fall over and turn brown, give the onions about a week and then pick them.

Squash: Pick it when it looks like the squash you are used to seeing at the store. It should have a deeper color and the butternuts will probably break free from the vine easily.

Tomatoes: Pick them when they are fully (or almost fully) red. You can also pick them green or half-red, but they will have to sit on a windowsill for awhile to ripen up.

If you have any more questions, this forum is filled with members who would be glad to answer them.

Wishing you and your family peace.

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