Harvesting fruits and vegetables is a very exciting part of the growing process. All your hard work has now paid off, and you will at last taste the delicious results. However, with so many kinds of fruits and vegetables available, you may wonder how to harvest them all. Ways to judge readiness of crops for harvesting may differ, but harvesting methods themselves are fairly simple. These ensure that food gets to your table safely, and that the plants left behind remain undamaged and healthy.
Determine that your fruits and vegetables are ready for harvesting. Consult "When to Harvest your Garden" or a similar edible plant guide for further information on many common crops (see Resources section). Readiness varies so much across species that it is difficult to give a hard and fast set of rules that covers all species.
Pluck fruits and vegetables growing above ground gently from their stems. You may wish to wear garden gloves, but with most edible fruits and vegetables, this will not be necessary. Some exceptions may include cactus grown for culinary use, as well as spiky plants, trees and bushes that may irritate your skin as you touch them. Do not yank, bruise or tear the plant stems as you remove the fruits and vegetables.
Dig vegetables growing underground carefully. In the case of potatoes, since they grow in bunches underground, dig a wide circle around the base of the plant. You may want to try digging on one side first before going all the way around. This will allow you to get a better idea of where the potatoes are located underground so you do not damage them with your trowel.
Snip lettuces and leafy greens from the ground when they are ready for harvest. Most lettuces and leafy greens have a sweeter flavor when they are younger, and turn bitter as they get bigger and older. Do not pluck these, as you may damage the remaining plants. Since they have relatively shallow root systems, you may also run the risk of accidentally uprooting them.