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Harvesting 101: Twist, Pull Or Cut Your Vegetables

by | Jul 14, 2023 | beginner gardening, garden, gardening, organic, vegetables | 0 comments

harvesting vegetables from your garden

Are you tired of second-guessing how to properly harvest your vegetables? Wondering whether to twist, pull, or cut them off the plant? From twisting off beans and peas to carefully cutting lettuce and gently pulling carrots from the ground, we’ll provide you with the knowledge and confidence to harvest your garden’s bounty like a pro. Get ready to discover the art of harvesting and take your vegetable-growing experience to a whole new level!


Here is a list of the most commonly grown vegetables that we recommend you twist to harvest.


  1. Beans: Snap beans, such as green beans or yellow beans, can be harvested by gently bending the bean pod until it snaps off the plant. This technique allows you to harvest the beans while leaving the stem intact.
  2. Peas: Similar to beans, peas can be harvested by twisting or gently pulling the pea pod from the plant. Make sure the peas inside the pod have reached the desired size and maturity before harvesting.
  3. Zucchini and summer squash: Small to medium-sized zucchini and summer squash can often be twisted off the plant when they are ready for harvest. Hold the fruit near the base and give it a gentle twist to detach it from the stem.
  4. Eggplant: When eggplants are fully mature and have reached the desired size, they can be twisted or cut off the plant. Make sure to use a sharp knife or pruning shears if twisting doesn’t work easily.
  5. Okra: Okra pods are typically harvested when they are about 2 to 4 inches long. You can twist or snap them off the plant, being careful not to damage the plant.


Cutting is a common harvesting technique used for various vegetables. Here are a few examples of vegetables that are typically cut for harvest:

  1. Lettuce and leafy greens: Harvest lettuce and leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard, by using scissors or a sharp knife to cut the leaves off just above the base of the plant. This allows the plant to continue producing new growth for future harvests.
  2. Herbs: Herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint are usually harvested by cutting the stems just above a leaf node. This encourages bushier growth and allows you to gather the fresh leaves for culinary use.
  3. Broccoli and cauliflower: When broccoli or cauliflower heads reach the desired size and maturity, use a sharp knife to cut the central head along with a few inches of stem. This encourages side shoots to develop for continued harvests.
  4. Cabbage: Harvest cabbage by cutting the head off just above the lowest set of leaves using a sharp knife. Some varieties may produce smaller side heads that can be harvested later.
  5. Tomato: Locate the stem where the tomato attaches to the vine. Hold the tomato gently to avoid damaging it or the plant. Position the shears or knife just above the stem and make a clean, quick cut through the stem, leaving a small part of the stem attached to the fruit.
  6. Celery: Cut celery stalks at the base of the plant when they have reached the desired size and thickness. Remove outer stalks first while allowing the inner ones to continue growing.
  7. Fennel: Cut fennel bulbs at the base of the plant when they have reached the appropriate size. You can also harvest fennel fronds by cutting the feathery leaves near the top of the plant.

Remember to use clean, sharp tools to minimize damage to the plants and ensure a clean cut.


Pulling is a common harvesting technique used for several root vegetables. Here are some of the most common vegetables that are typically pulled from the ground for harvest:

  1. Carrots: Carrots are usually harvested by gently pulling them out of the soil. Grasp the foliage near the carrot top and give a firm, steady pull to remove the carrot from the ground. If the soil is compacted, you can use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the carrots before pulling.
  2. Beets: Beets are also pulled from the ground for harvest. Similar to carrots, grasp the beet foliage near the top and gently pull to remove the beetroot from the soil. You can trim off the leaves afterward, leaving an inch or so of the stem intact for storing.
  3. Radishes: Radishes are quick-growing root vegetables that can be pulled when they have reached the desired size. Grasp the leafy top of the radish and gently pull it out of the soil. Harvesting radishes at the right size ensures a crisp and flavorful root.
  4. Turnips: Turnips are typically pulled from the ground when they have reached their mature size. Grasp the turnip foliage near the top and give it a gentle pull to remove the root from the soil. Larger turnips may require loosening the soil around them before pulling.
  5. Potatoes: While potatoes are technically tubers, they are also harvested by pulling the plants from the ground. Once the potato plants have died back and the skins are mature, gently dig around the plants using a fork or shovel to loosen the soil. Then, carefully pull the plant out of the ground, exposing the potatoes beneath.

 If the soil is compacted or the vegetables are stubborn to pull, you can use a garden fork to loosen the soil gently before pulling.


By understanding the appropriate techniques for each type of vegetable, you can ensure optimal flavor, quality, and plant health. Whether it’s twisting off beans, pulling carrots from the ground, cutting tomatoes from the vine, or using various methods for different vegetables, each technique plays a crucial role in preserving the integrity of the plant and maximizing your harvest.

Remember to always consider the specific needs of each vegetable, such as ripeness indicators, appropriate tools, and gentle handling. Prioritize clean cuts, sharp blades, and careful handling to minimize damage and maximize the shelf life of your freshly harvested produce.

Now armed with the knowledge of twisting, pulling, cutting, and other techniques, go on and enjoy harvesting your own homegrown vegetables. Happy harvesting!