Veggies – Bigger is Not Always Better!

Tiny is tender! When harvesting zucchini 5″ is tender, 2 feet is tough. I’ve never understood it when people get excited over a huge, tough zucchini. They become tough and dry.  They may be OK to grate for zucchini bread (though even then the dryness and seediness is a detriment here too) but for sauteing or steaming go small! IMG_8734

Peas are sweet and tender when the skins are well filled with the sweet treat inside but not bulging and misshapen. Leave them too long looking for that bigger pea they lose their sweetness altogether and become rather flat tasting.IMG_8474

Read your seed packet when planting carrots.  Pull them when they reach the size indicated on the pack. Waiting makes a sweet juicy carrot become woody in the center.IMG_8299

Lettuce left too long becomes bitter and will eventually bolt and go to seed. This is not when you want to eat it…sweet and soft becomes brittle and bitter quickly!IMG_9108

Reading the package is key since Armenian cucumbers, one of my favorites, are actually best when a little longer ( I like them up to 10 inches).  When too tiny, the flavor just isn’t there. But left too long the seeds take over and they lose flavor.IMG_7671 ADJ

Tomatoes will grow to their appointed size and then eventually get mushy, so again, read the package to see when your expected and ideal size should be.IMG_0925

Swiss chard and spinach can be harvested when the leaves are very small and taste best before they get too large.  Just pick a few at a time and the plant will continue to grow and supply small tasty leaves over a long period.IMG_7832 (2)

Beets are actually better at 2-3 inches than really big but I admit I like to let them get a little larger. Just don’t wait too long for that big one or they will become woody and lose that great sweet beet taste.IMG_8674thumbnailadj

Beans, like peas, are best young. Pick before you can see the outline of the beans inside the pod or they will be tough and stringy. Depending on the variety that could be as soon as they’re 4 inches or up to 8 inches.IMG_7664 ADJ

I could go on, but you get the drift.  We have a mentality in our country that, “bigger is always better” and people love to compete for the largest pumpkin in the land…but remember, they don’t eat those whoppers! When planting for the dinner table…bigger is NOT always better!

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