By Bob Difley
Picking your own fruit and vegetables is catching on as health- and taste-conscious consumers seek fresher and healthier food.
You can now find everything to pick yourself from apples and nuts to fruits, berries and vegetables.
Prices are considerably cheaper since you have eliminated the labor cost of harvesting from the farmer’s overhead.
Look along rural two-lane roads that access farmland. Many visitor centers have brochures and maps showing the locations of U-Pick farms and orchards.
If you are not sure what to pick, the farm’s employees will help you to choose the ripest fruit, or how to choose fruit that will ripen within a few days, all of which will help prevent having food spoil before you can eat it.
Where varieties exist, such as at some apple orchards, ask about the differences between each variety, which ones are best for eating now, for baking, and which variety will keep well for an extended time, etc.
Buying direct from the farmer will enable you to buy larger quantities that are about to spoil, and for which the farmer would otherwise receive no income, for very low prices. Buy tomatoes to make your own sauces and fruit and berries to can, freeze, or make jam and pies. On the Pick Your Own website you can locate orchards and farms by state and learn picking, canning and preserving tips.
The best time to pick is when the crops are ripening. For truck garden vegetables it depends on where you are and the length of the growing season. In warmer climates the farmer can raise several crops during the season and will have harvestable crops early in the season as well as late.
In general, to tell when the best picking times are refer to whatever descriptive brochures might be available. For a more accurate time frame, call the farm or orchard and ask.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.