When To Harvest Vegetables

It is not always easy to find the right time to harvest the countless types of vegetables. Some varieties are ready for harvest early in the year, while other types need their ripening period. The time of day also plays a role.

Time of day

If you eat the harvested vegetables directly from the balcony, the point in time plays a subordinate role. Lettuce and herbs taste more intense at certain times of the day. Other types of vegetables should be harvested within a defined period of time due to certain ingredients.

Harvest in the morning

Harvesting in the morning is recommended on hot days. During the day, parts of the plant lose water, causing the cells to shrink and reducing the shelf life of the yields. Herbs are more aromatic and fresher in the morning than in the evening. If you water herbs and lettuce the night before harvest, they taste even better.

What is harvested in the morning:

  • Peppers, onions, and cucurbits
  • Beans, lentils, peas, and lupins
  • Mediterranean herbs and lettuce

Harvest in the evening

Certain types of vegetables should not be harvested in the morning. These include spinach and arugula, as these plants absorb nitrate from the soil overnight. The substance is broken down during the course of the day when exposed to sunlight so that the concentration in the evening is lower than in the morning. Root, tuber, and cabbage vegetables are full of vitamins in the late afternoon. Early risers have to be patient with the harvest.


The season in which you should harvest your vegetables depends on the species. Each variety has its own preferences, so the harvest lasts from June into winter.

Early vegetables

Harvesting too late has a negative effect on the aroma of many types of vegetables. Eggplants and peas will develop dry and mealy flesh if left in the ground for too long. Kohlrabi quickly acquires a woody consistency. In the case of cucumbers and courgettes, the shine and color of the skin tell you when the best time to harvest has come. If the outer skin turns yellowish, it is usually too late.

Late greens

Root vegetables grow under the cover of the soil and develop a more intense flavor over time. Many varieties of leeks, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and black salsify have specialized in the cold. They become more aromatic when the first frosts appear.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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