When to harvest your fruits and veggies

You worked hard to get your gardens planted in early spring and may already have started harvesting some fruits and veggies. We’ve created this handy guide to help you harvest at the right time. Letting fruits and veggies overripen or rot on the ground attracts diseases and insects.


Harvest from midsummer to late fall. Apples are ready when you can gently twist them off the branch. You can also cut one open; if the seeds are dark brown, they’re ready to harvest. If you taste one and it’s sweet & juicy, it’s ready. Twisting them off is a better method than pulling, especially if you want to avoid removing the stem.


Wait until the third season after planting to allow healthy root systems to develop. Harvest in early spring when asparagus is around 6-8” tall and the tips are firm. First harvest should last for two weeks. You can extend this time each season until you can harvest for 8-12 weeks. Cut or snap asparagus either at or just slightly below ground level.


Harvest until first frost.

Snap Beans – Green & Yellow, bush and pole

Pick when they are as thick as a pencil and snap when broken in two. Hold the bean in one hand and the stem in the other to prevent damaging branches that could produce later. Picking all ripe beans keep the plants producing.

Shell Beans – Romano, Lima, Southern Peas, Soybeans, Fava, etc., bush and pole

Harvest when the beans in the pod are mature, but not dried out. Pods will also change color when beans are ready.

Dried Beans – Great Northern, Navy, Pinto, etc., bush and pole

Pick when pods are very dry & brown and the beans are hard. They will rattle inside the pods.


Harvest when heads are compact and deep green, before the plant flowers. Cut the stems at an angle 4-6” under the head.


Harvest when the heads are firm and full. Cut stalks at the base of the heads, discarding outer leaves. Harvest in the morning when cabbage is cool.


Harvest 2-3 months after planting or when at the desired size. Carrots can stay in the ground until you need them without losing quality.


Harvest before curds separate, when heads are full. Cut stem under the head, but leave a few leaves to protect the easily bruised curds.


Harvest when silks are dark brown and soft and the kernels are tender and plump. If poked, the kernels should produce a milky liquid. If it’s clear, the corn isn’t ripe. If there isn’t any liquid, the corn is overripe. Using a downward twist, remove ears from the stalks.


Harvest often to encourage plants to continue producing.

Slicing Cucumbers

Harvest at the desired size, but before color changes to yellow or orange; if the color changes, the plant stops producing. Harvest such that only 2 or 3 cukes are left on the vine. Pull the cukes off the vine to harvest.

Pickling Cucumbers

Harvest at roughly 4- 5” long. Pick in the morning when they are firmest.


For best quality, harvest at 4-5” long, slightly smaller for mini types. The skin should appear tight and glossy. If dull, the eggplant is overripe.

Leaf Lettuce

Ready for harvest at around 40 days from planting. Harvest when leaves are about 4-5” long. Either pick individual outer leaves or cut the whole plant roughly an inch above the ground. This causes the plant to begin new growth, which will be ready in 3-5 weeks.

Head Lettuce

Romaine & head lettuce is ready around 70 days after planting from seed or 20-35 days, if transplanted. Harvest when heads are firm. Cut the plant down to the ground level.


Melons must ripen on the vine for best quality.

Muskmelons (aka cantaloupe, rock melon)

Harvest when the rind appears tan under the surface netting instead of green. There should be a crack on the stem where it joins the melon. This means the melon is in the “slip stage” and will come off the vine will little effort. If it takes work to remove the melon, it’s not ripe.


Harvest when the underside becomes yellow or cream-colored and the curly tendril at the stem dries and browns. Skin will be dull and hard and the melon will produce a deep sound if you thump it.

Bulb Onions

You can harvest when they’re large enough to use as green onions. Bulb onions are fully ripe when the tops fall over and yellow. Gently dig them out of the soil.


Ready to harvest when leaves are about 75% brown. Pick some test bulbs. If the cloves are hard to separate, wait a week or two and try again. Harvest with a pitchfork.

Peas – Snow and Snap

Harvest about 3 weeks after the plant flowers. Choose pods that are starting to look bumpy and plump. Pull very carefully so as not to uproot the plant or cut them off with scissors.


Harvest pears when the fruit becomes light green and twists off the stem easily. Fruit should be hard and should be ripened off the tree, indoors at around 65-70F. If the neck of the pear yields to gentle pressure, the pear is ready to eat.


Harvest when at a usable size. Green peppers are underripe but edible. Cut them from the plant leaving around a half-inch of stem attached to the pepper. Regular harvesting encourages the plant to produce.


Harvest at the desired size or when the foliage dies. In loose soil, just pull up the plant and check the soil by hand for loose potatoes. Loosen hard soil with a pitchfork.

Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Harvest when rinds are resistant to puncture with a fingernail or when vines start to die. Be careful not to break the stem from the pumpkin or winter squash as that creates a susceptibility to decay.

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Harvest at 6-8” long and 2” in diameter. Patty Pan or scallop types should be harvested at 3-4” in diameter. Harvesting encourages production. Cut from vines leaving 1” of stem attached.


Harvest tomatoes when the color changes. The best flavor is found in firm and fully colored fruits. Certain type drop the fruits when ripe, in which case you can simply pick them up.