Harvesting Summer Vegetables


The Home Production Garden is full of produce, which we donate to Plant a Row for the Hungry.

Below are a few tips for harvesting favorite summer vegetables in your own garden:

  • Carrots: Pull when they are ¾ inches in diameter and the orange shoulder pushes through the soil.
  • Cucumbers: Harvest every 2 to 3 days with hand shears, leaving a short stem. Pick at 2 – 4 inches for pickles; 6 – 8 inches for slicing.
  • Muskmelon and cantaloupe: As the color between the netting turns a yellow-tan, check daily. Harvest when the melon easily separates from the stem.
  • Peppers: Harvest hot peppers at 1 – 3 inches, depending on variety. Harvest sweet peppers once fully formed. If you leave the peppers on the plant, they will often turn a different color, such as red or orange, depending on the variety. Use hand shears for a clean cut.
  • Potatoes: Dig “new” potatoes as soon as they are big enough to eat. Other potatoes should be dug when the tops die back. Never eat a green potato.
  • Green beans: Pick often when they are the thickness of a pencil and about 4 – 6 inches.
  • Zucchini: Pick daily when 2 inches in diameter and skin is easily punctured with fingernail.
  • Watermelon: Harvest when the “belly” of the melon turns from white to creamy yellow.
  • Sweet corn: Test pulling back the husk from the ear. Mature kernels exude a milky sap when punctured. To pick, twist ear and pull straight down along stem.
  • Tomatoes: Pick when fully colored.

— Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs