When Should You Harvest and How?


Does how you harvest make a difference? Yes.

If done right, the plant will continue to produce. Done incorrectly, and you can do damage that will limit how much your plants produce and how long the vegetables you pick will last.

Here are some tips on harvesting some of the vegetables we have growing in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.  If you have a particular question, email me. I’m here to help.


Harvest when they give a little when squeezed.  To those who are growing Black Beauty tomatoes this is how we will be able to judge when this heirloom tomato is ripe. The usual visual clue of waiting for the red color of a fully ripened tomato just won’t work with this tomato. As the name implies, the skin here is nearly black. See image.Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 8.51.46 AM.png

If you have Green Zebra tomatoes in your plot, look for yellow stripes that are starting to blush.

Kale and Chard

Keep removing the outer leaves. Don’t cut off the growing crown.

You can also just harvest the young leaves when they are about four inches tall by cutting them about an inch above the soil.


You want to pinch the beans from the stem with your fingernail. If need be, use a small pruning shears.  Don’t yank the beans off as you might break the stem. Harvest while the beans are young, between four to seven inches long. and plump.


Resist the temptation to twist the cucumber off the plant. It is better to use a clippers. And don’t wait too long.  If it is starting to yellow, it is past prime. Pick it quickly.


Look for a glossy sheen. This indicates it is ready for picking.

For those growing white eggplants you want to pick them before the skin starts to turn yellow. Use a pruning shears and cut keeping a stub of the stem attached. The eggplant will last longer.


Pick zucchini and summer squash when they are about 5 to 7 inches long. Patty Pan is best at 3 inches.

When winter squash is ready to be harvested it will have a hard skin and be difficult to puncture with a fingernail. Cut the squash leaving a three inch stub of a stem.






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