How to Harvest Vegetables from your Garden


It is best to harvest in the morning when it is cool, it not only gives you the best-tasting crisp vegetables but also reduces the stress on the plant.

Below is one morning’s harvest of 2 kinds of Zucchini Squash, 3 varieties of tomatoes, and several varieties of cucumbers.  All of these will go into great-tasting lunch and dinner meals.

When and How to Harvest Vegetables from your Garden

For the best flavor, crispness, and promoting more vegetables to set on your plants you need to harvest your vegetables at the best time.

First, you should harvest in the morning when it is cooler allowing the most water in the vegetables and at a time that will reduce stress on the plants.

Martini Cucumbers

Next, is to understand when they are ripe for tomatoes it is best to know the variety and color of that variety when they are ripe, I would allow them to ripen completely on the vine to achieve the best flavor, juiciness, and texture.

For cucumbers, you need to know the variety and the optimum size of that variety for harvesting.  Cucumbers can range in size and color a lot so you need to know the characteristics of that variety.

A lemon cucumber is yellow when ripe whereas if you let a pickling cuke become yellow it is beyond ripe and can have a tough skin, bitter taste, and tough larger seeds.

Zucchini have more flexibility in the size for harvesting, it can depend on how you are going to use them to know when to harvest them.  The ideal is about 6-8 inches long for tenderness and flavor.  but you can let them grow to extremely large when grinding up for zucchini bread or other uses.

For carrots it is best to know the number of days from planting to harvest that is listed by variety and to harvest within 10-15 days of that for the sweetest flavor and tenderness.

Peppers It is best to know the variety and days harvest, size, and color of the pepper to harvest at the optimum time for crispness, thicker walls of pepper, flavor, and heat or mild depending on the variety.

For peas and beans, it is best to know the size and plumpness to know when to harvest.  It is critical that once you start harvesting that you continue to harvest every other day to keep them producing.  If you stop harvesting the plants will stop producing a crop or will slow down drastically.

How to Harvest Vegetables from Your Garden

To harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash you should use either a sharp knife or clippers to cut the stem, this way you will not tear the stem which can damage your plant.

When harvesting small cherry-sized tomatoes you can easily pull them off by hand or snap the stem next to the fruit to remove them.

For beans and peas use one hand to hold the stem on the plant side and the other had to pull the fruit to break the stem.

For root crops like carrots hold the top of the carrot and pull it straight up this will not break the carrots under the ground.

For lettuce cut the leaves or entire plant about 1/2-1 inch above ground to allow the lettuce to continue to grow.

Remember as you harvest plants entirely you can replant a crop of another variety or the same one for another crop in late summer or early fall.

What to place your harvest in when picking

Be sure to take a basket or container large enough to carry your harvest in and either a knife or clippers.

Make sure the container is large enough to carry everything you pick from the garden to your kitchen.

Where to store your harvest and how to clean it.

There are some vegetables that should be cleaned before storing and others that should not be cleaned, here are our thoughts on cleaning and storing your vegetables before eating them.

Lettuce, Kale, Spinach, and other leafy vegetables should be washed and inspected for bugs before you place them in a container in the refrigerator.

Tomatoes do not need to be washed before storing but they should be inspected for bruising or any damage.  Tomatoes should be kept on the counter out of the direct sun and not stored in the refrigerator before you use them.

Peppers should be stored in the refrigerator until being used.

Peas, Beans, and other Legumes should be stored in an air-tight container to keep them crisp and fresh.

Cucumbers and Summer squash can be wiped off to remove dirt before storing them in the refrigerator.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes should be stored in a cool dark location until being used.

Now that you have all the tools and information on How to Harvest Vegetables from your Garden, you can start harvesting the vegetables, herbs, and fruit from your garden.


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