Vegetable Harvest Guide

Variety of VegetablesHarvesting vegetables at the right stage of maturity ensures the best taste and quality. Many vegetables should be picked throughout the summer to maintain plant productivity. The time, frequency, and method of harvesting vary depending on the species.

Vegetables, such as standard sweet corn, have a very small harvest period. Others, such as many of the root crops, can remain in the garden for several weeks with little effect on their taste. Some vegetables, like summer squash, have to be harvested almost daily. Other plants, such as tomatoes, can be harvested on a weekly basis.

Use the table below to determine the optimal time to pick and enjoy your favorite vegetables.

Vegetable Harvest Guide

VegetableDays to MaturitySizeColorComment
Beet50-702-3 in diameterred, varies with cultivarUp to 1/3 of the beet foliage can be harvested for greens without harming the root.
Broccoli50-65*6 to 7 acrossblue-greenHarvest before yellow flower buds start to open, side shoots can be harvested after main head is removed.
Cabbage60-90*varies with cultivargreen, redHarvest when heads are large and solid.
Carrot60-803/4 in diameterorangeHarvest when orange shoulder pushes through the soil.
Cauliflower55-80*6 to 8 acrosscreamy whiteBlanch heads when 2-3 across by carefully tying leaves over heads.
CucumberPickling55-652-4 longdark greenHarvest plants every 2 to 3 days, leave small piece of stem attached to fruit.
CucumberSlicing55-656-8 longdark green1 to 2 diameter, harvest plants every 2 to 3 days.
Eggplant75-90*varies with cultivarpurple, white, greenFruit should have shiny finish.
Garlic90**2-3white, reddish purpleHarvest when foliage topples over and dries or just before first frost.
Green Bean, Snap Bean, Wax Bean50-704 to 6 longgreen, yellow, purpleHarvest when pods are pencil size in thickness.
Kohlrabi55-702-3 diametergreenStore with leaves and roots removed.
Leeks120-150; 90-100**3 ft tall; 2 in diametergreen and whiteHarvest when stem width is larger than one inch before the plant begins to form a bulb
Lettuce (leaf)45-604-6 longgreenHarvest outer leaves, hot weather causes bitterness.
Melon, Honeydew65-1006-9 in diameterpale greenHarvest when blossom end of the fruit is slightly soft.  Unlike cantaloupe, honeydews do not slip off the vine when mature.
Muskmelon & Cantaloupe75-1005-10 in diameteryellow-tan between nettingWhen mature, stem separates easily from melon.
Okra50-653 longbright greenHarvest frequently to maintain productivity.
OnionDry100-120; 90-100**varies with cultivarwhite, yellow, redHarvest when tops fall over and begin to dry.
Onion, Green30-501/4-3/4green & whiteHarvest when tops are about 6 inches tall.
Parsnip110-1308-18" longwhite or creamCan be overwintered in the ground, mulch and dig before new growth starts in spring.
Peas, Snow (Sugar)55-853 long podsbright greenHarvest when pods are long and thin, just as the seeds begin to develop.
Peas, Snap55-853 long podsbright greenPick when seeds are nearly full size.
Peas, Garden (Shell)55-853 long podsbright greenHarvest when peas are full size.
Peppers, Hot60-90*1 to 3 longred, purple, yellow, greenUse gloves when harvesting.
PeppersSweet70-90*2 to 4 in diametergreen, red, yellow, purple, orangeUsually harvested when green, but can be left on plant until red, orange, yellow or purple.
Potato90-120varies with cultivarvaries with cultivarDig when tops turn brown and die.
Pumpkin85-120varies with cultivarorangeHarvest when uniformly orange, leave 3-4 of stem.
RadishSpring25-401/2 to 2 in diameterred, white, variesRadishes larger than 2 in diameter are often pithy and unusable.
Radish, Winter45-706-12 longwhite, variesCan be left in the ground until frost.
Shallots90-120 1 to 1.5 inred, white, variesHarvest when tops fall over and begin to dry.
Spinach45-606-8 tallgreenHarvest the entire crop when plants begin to show signs of bolting.
Summer SquashScallop50-603 to 5 in diameteryellow, greenHarvest when skin is soft.
Summer SquashZucchini50-606 to 12 longgreen, yellowHarvest every 2 to 3 days when fruit are 2 in diameter.
Sweet Corn70-1055 to 10 , varies with cultivaryellow, white, bicolorMature kernels exude milky sap when punctured.
Sweet Potato100-125varies with cultivarGold or orangeHarvest just before or after a vine killing frost.
Tomato70-90*varies with cultivarred, orange, yellowHarvest fully ripe for best flavor.
Tomatillos75-100varies with cultivar, often 1=2 in diameterfruit is green, husk is tanFully ripe fruit turn yellow or purple and lose their tangy flavor
Turnip45-702-3 in diameterwhite, reddish purpleFoliage can be harvested for greens.
Watermelon80-100varies with cultivarlight to dark green, stripedHarvest when 'belly' turns from white to creamy yellow.
Winter Squash85-120varies with cultivarvaries with cultivarRind should be hard and difficult to puncture with fingernail.

* from transplants
** from sets (bulbs)

More Information

Last reviewed:
July 2023