Sometimes it is difficult to tell the best time to pick homegrown fruits and vegetables. Melons are ripe when they break off of their stems easily. Eggplants should be firm with shiny skin. When cut, the seeds should be pale in color. Cut broccoli heads while they are deep green and tightly formed. Once the little yellow flowers appear, it's too late. Corn is ready when its silk tassels turn brown and the husks are plump.
Some vegetables are actually sweeter and at their peak if picked a bit before they reach full size. Pick carrots and beets when their green foliage is full and mature and their "shoulders" begin to show above the soil. Harvest green beans and summer squash when they have good color but are still small.
Raspberries, apples and other fruits usually smell ripe. They separate from their stems easily and feel soft beneath full-colored skins.