top of page

GROW IN ABUNDANCE: Winter Garden Harvesting Tips

By Sommer Cartier, for Let’s Talk Plants! January 2024.

<a href="">Image by stocking</a> on Freepik
Image credit:

Winter Garden Harvesting Tips

One of the joys of gardening during the cooler months is picking tender crisp lettuce straight from the garden, right before a meal, and savoring the sweet tender flavor that can only be experienced with homegrown lettuce. It’s a wonderful thing when you can pick and savor your vegetables when they are fresh and at their optimal flavor.

<a href="">Image by pvproductions</a> on Freepik
Image credit:

Knowing how to properly harvest and store winter vegetables can help ensure a steady supply of fresh, homegrown produce during the cooler months while also reducing food waste. Whether you're plucking robust root vegetables from the soil or clipping tender delicious greens from your garden beds, the art of harvesting extends beyond the simple act of gathering crops. When executed with some thought and care, you can enjoy a winter bounty that will grace your table with flavor and nutrition. Here you will find best practices for harvesting and storing some of the most commonly grown cool season vegetables, offering insights into optimal timing, proper techniques, and effective storage methods to preserve the essence of your garden.

Carrots. Photo credit: Used with permission. Esmeralda Barrera,

The following vegetable harvest and storage guide provides tips for a successful winter harvest. Please keep in mind that this information can vary based on the variety and intended use.

Important tip: When harvesting vegetables, be careful not to break, nick or bruise them. The less you handle your vegetables, the longer they will last in storage.


When to Harvest

How to Store

Shelf life


When the tops are one inch in diameter.

Fridge – remove tops and store in a zip lock bag.

8 months.


While the flower buds are still tight and green.

Fridge – store unrinsed in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag.

2 weeks.


When heads are compact and firm.

Fridge – store whole and unrinsed in plastic bag.

3 weeks to 2 months.


When the tops are one inch in diameter.

Fridge – remove tops.

8 months.


While they are still white and before the curds are “ricey.”

Fridge – store unrinsed in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag.

3 weeks.


When two to three inches in diameter.

Fridge - remove tops and store wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag.

2 months.


While the leaves are tender.

Fridge – wrap in paper towel to absorb excess moisture and place in plastic bag.

1 week.


When the necks are tight, and the scales are dry. Cure at room temperature for 2 to 4 weeks.

Room temperature in a well-ventilated container or open paper bag.

4 months.


When the pods are still tender.

Fridge – in a perforated plastic bag in crisper drawer.

1 week.


When the vine dies back.

Room temperature in a well-ventilated basket or mesh bag on the countertop.

2 weeks at room temperature. If stored at 50 degrees in a dark place they can last up to 2 months.


Want to read more?

Here are links to other of Sommer Cartier's articles on this (or similar) subject -


Sommer Cartier

Master of Arts, International Development and Social Change

Clark University


Like this article? Great! We thought you would.

Never miss an article or an issue of the SDHS newsletter Let's Talk Plants! Be sure to join or renew your membership with the San Diego Horticultural Society.


bottom of page