How and When to Harvest Your Garden

Knowing how and when to harvest every garden crop helps guarantee the most flavorful and nutritious homegrown veggies and fruits.

| July/August 2014

  • Growtech Cultivation Scissors
    With razor-sharp, slim blades, these cultivation scissors fit any hand, left or right; available in carbon or stainless steel and straight or angled blades. $17,
    Photo courtesy GrowTech
  • Girl Harvesting a Home Garden
    Get the most from your plants by knowing the best times and ways to harvest them.
    Photo by Gap Images
  • Palm Fiber Sombrero
    Protect yourself from too much sun with the Palm Fiber Sombrero. $15,
    Photo courtesy Peaceful Valley Farm and Supply
  • Freshly Cut Cantaloupe
    The best time to harvest canteloupes is when the netting on the skin becomes pronounced.
    Photo by iStock
  • Basket used for Harvesting Your Garden
    Harvest, wash and carry fresh veggies all in one basket, handmade in Maine from wood and lobster trap wire. $45,
    Photo courtesy Planet Natural
  • CobraHead Long Handle Weeder and Cultivator
    A perennial favorite with garden experts, the CobraHead Long Handle Weeder and cultivator makes all sorts of garden tasks easy, no bending or kneeling required. $60,
    Photo courtesy CobraHead
  • Sophie Conran Secateurs by Burgon and Ball
    By British garden-tool designers Burgon and Ball, the Sophie Conran Secateurs are smaller than usual, fitting perfectly in hand or pocket. Stainless steel makes them strong for cutting and resistant to rust. $36,
    Photo courtesy Gardeners Trading Post

  • Growtech Cultivation Scissors
  • Girl Harvesting a Home Garden
  • Palm Fiber Sombrero
  • Freshly Cut Cantaloupe
  • Basket used for Harvesting Your Garden
  • CobraHead Long Handle Weeder and Cultivator
  • Sophie Conran Secateurs by Burgon and Ball

It’s that glorious time of year when most of our gardens are at their peak, pumping out fresh produce as fast as we can eat it. After all the work you’ve put into planning, planting and growing your garden crops, you don’t want to stymie maximum production by harvesting too soon or too late—veggies taste best and are most nutritious when harvested at the height of their natural wonderfulness. Read on for a crop-by-crop guide to how and when to harvest your produce for the tastiest food and most productive plants ever.

Beans: Check daily—vital, as beans grow quickly; pick snap/green beans when pods are full and firm with pliable tips but seeds are tiny, usually two to four weeks after bloom; pick haricot (French filet) types when tender, young pods are about 1/8 inch.

Beets: Pick standard varieties when roots are 1-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and about the size of a golf ball; white and golden varieties stay tender until they’re the size of a baseball; storage (winter-keeping) varieties remain tender until softball-size; beets harvested past their prime have a strong taste and tough texture.

Broccoli: Harvest when buds are tight and before florets begin opening flowers; for your first harvest, cut the central stalk at a slant 5 to 6 inches below the base of the head, which prevents rot and encourages production of new side shoots.

Cabbage: Begin harvesting anytime after heads become solid and firm; larger heads are more likely to split—split heads are still tasty but won’t store well.

Cantaloupes: Harvest when the “netting” that overlays skin becomes more pronounced and the melon separates easily from the vine.

7/24/2014 8:51:44 PM

Thanks for the tips! It’s important to know when to harvest…however I have kids so my garden is often picked clean before its bounty reaches maturity. It’s a good problem to have though as I think it’s important to teach kids the basics about where their food comes from. Love the picture with the article too! Nature Hills Nursery has some great products to help with the harvest, including this handy wheelbarrow that won’t strain your back:



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