When to Harvest Your Fruits and Vegetables

From peas and beans to cabbages and cauliflower to soft fruits, here’s how to tell when the harvest is ready!

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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by Unsplash/ Dan Gold

Here is everything you need to know when the harvest is ready. From peas and beans to cabbages, to soft fruits, here’s how to tell when it’s the perfect time to harvest your crops!

When to Harvest Each Crop

Root Crops

• Beets and turnips: Ready when golf-ball-sized to tennis-ball-sized.
• Carrots: Ready as soon as they’re big enough for your needs. Leave maincrop varieties in the ground until you’re ready to use them, including over winter in milder areas.
• Parsnips: Ready when the leaves have died back. Wait until after the first frosts for the sweetest roots.

Potatoes

• Early potatoes: Ready 10 to 12 weeks after planting, when the plants come into flower.
• Maincrop potatoes for storing: Ready 20 weeks after planting, once all the foliage has died back.

Peas and Beans

• Peas and fava beans: Ready when the peas feel well-developed in their pods. Shell a few to double-check.
• Pole beans and bush beans: Ready when long and smooth, but before beans start to bulge inside.

Fruiting Vegetables

• Peppers and tomatoes: Ready when the skin is evenly colored all over.
• Cucumbers: Ready when there is no pronounced point at the tip. Can be picked small for snacking cucumbers, or larger for slicing.
• Zucchini: Ready when they reach about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long.
• Summer squash: Ready as soon as they reach a desirable size.
• Winter squash: Ready when the stem has died off and hardened. If you push your thumbnail into the skin, it should dent but not puncture it.

Corn

• Ready when the tassels at the ends of the cobs have shriveled up, and when you sink your nail into a kernel it exudes a milky liquid.

Salad Leaves

• Cut-and-come-again salad leaves: Ready when young and tender.
• Heart-forming salad leaves: Ready when the heart has begun to firm up.

Cabbage Family Crops

• Cabbages: Ready when the fleshy leaves have formed a tight, firm head. Delay harvesting Savoy types until after winter frosts, which enrich the flavor.
• Broccoli and cauliflower: Ready when the heads have fully formed but the buds are still tightly closed.

Garlic, Onions, and Shallots

• For using fresh: Dig up when the foliage starts to die down in summer.
• For storing: Wait two weeks after the foliage has turned yellow and toppled over. Dig up the bulbs and cure them for storing in a cool, dry place.

Tree Fruits

• Apples and pears: Ready when they pull away easily from the tree.
• Stone fruits: Ready when they become slightly softer at the stalk end of the fruit.

Soft Fruits

• Raspberries: Ready when evenly colored and they pull away easily from their plug.
• Blackcurrants: Ready a week after turning black.
• Blueberries: Ready two or three days after turning blue.

Learn more about when to harvest your fruits and vegetables in this video.

More Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

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