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Harvest vegetables at the right time

Harvest vegetables at the right time


Knowing when to harvest vegetables will help you get the best quality vegetables from your garden. Many gardeners allow produce to pass their prime when vegetables are less tender and more fibrous. Below is a guideline to help you determine the best time to harvest vegetables. Pepper and tomatoes are listed first with the Get Real Vegetables information below that. 

Peppers (bell and chile) can be harvested in three stages.

Mature green: Pepper is firm and fully sized. The fruit color is completely green to light green, with no red color showing. These peppers will store approximately one week in the refrigerator.

Pinto: Fruit is partially red and green in color. At room temperature, these peppers will ripen in about 3 days.

Red: Pepper is fully red (or mature color) and may be partially dry. Red chile and bell peppers that are still succulent and firm should be used immediately. Partially dry red chile should be fully dried for storage or grinding into flakes or powder.

Tomatoes can be harvested in three stages.

Mature green: Tomato is firm and fully sized. The fruit color is green to light green, with no pink color showing on the blossom-end.

Pink: Pink color on the blossom-end of the fruit. At room temperature, these tomatoes will ripen in about 3 days.

Ripe: Tomato is fully red (or mature color) but still firm. Ripe tomatoes should be used immediately.


Get Real Grow Food Vegetables Harvesting Chart


Part Eaten

Too Early


Too Late

Snap bush beans

Pods and seeds

Too small

Pods swollen, seeds just visible

Pods fibrous, seeds large


Roots and leaves

Too small

Roots 2–3 in. in diameter

Roots pithy, strong taste


Immature blooms

Too small

Bright green color, head still tightly closed

Head loose, some blooms beginning to show



Stem doesn’t want to separate easily from the fruit

Stem easily breaks away from fruit when pulled

Background color of melon is yellow; rind soft



Too small

1/2–3/4 in. at shoulder

Strong taste, overly sweet

Corn, sweet


Grains watery, small

Grains plump, liquid in milk stage

Grains starting to dent, liquid in dough stage



Too small

Skin dark green, seeds soft

Skin beginning to yellow, seeds hard



Too small

Very glossy skin, side springs back when mashed

Seeds brown, side won’t spring back when mashed

Squash, summer


Too small

Rind can be penetrated by thumbnail

Rind difficult to penetrate by thumbnail



Flesh green, stem green and difficult to separate

Melon surface next to ground turns from light straw color to a richer yellow

Top surface has dull look