Monty Don's best tips on how to harvest vegetables – from kale to carrots

It’s time to harvest vegetables from your garden. Get delicious food for your table with Monty’s tips

Harvest vegetables: cabbage
(Image credit: Kiona Lee on Unsplash)

If you’ve grown your own veggies this year, it’s time! Yes, you can enjoy some of the results of your planting and tending, and harvest vegetables from your plot right now. Food taken from your garden or allotment will taste fresh and delicious, of course. But it’s also at its nutritional best eaten soon after harvest – rather than transported then stored in a shop and then your home – so it’s healthier for you as well as packed with flavour.

But which vegetables are ready for your table? And how should they be harvested? We’ve got the lowdown on what you can enjoy at the moment – and what you should leave in the ground for eating later. There are plenty more tips and advice on creating a productive and beautiful plot in our dedicated garden ideas page, too.

How to harvest vegetables: Monty Don’s top tips

Monty Don harvested brassicas including cabbage and kale on Gardeners’ World, and we’re sharing his top tips.

If you want to know more about creating a kitchen garden then be sure to read our guide. 

Harvest vegetables: cavolo nero

(Image credit: Getty)

1. You can harvest cabbage that was sown in April and May now. Monty harvested a Savoy cabbage to show how it’s done, reminding us that although these beauties grow to a fabulous size, it’s just the central round head that you’ll be using for cooking. 

When you’re harvesting a cabbage, make the cut just above ground level, as Monty demonstrated on screen. Make sure that your knife is sharp, too.

2. Monty also harvested kale from his vegetable plot. There are many different varieties of kale, but if you’re only going to grow one, Monty recommends going for cavolo nero. You’ll also find it called Tuscan kale, black cabbage, and black Tuscan kale, when you’re buying plants. 

3. The beauty of growing kale is that you can keep on harvesting, rather than cutting it like a cabbage. All you need to do, Monty says, is pull off the leaves as you need them. 

4. Monty likes to take some leaves from each of his cavolo nero kale plants. He suggests taking them from lower down on the plant. Result? The plant will grow taller with new leaves at the top, Monty explains. It will do this well into spring, he says, so you can keep on cooking with this nutritious vegetable. 

By the way, cavolo nero is sweeter in taste than other kale varieties, particularly after the first frosts, so you should discover the difference as the weather gets colder. Monty’s also a kale fan because you can’t overcook it and therefore spoil it.

5. Monty is also growing purple sprouting broccoli in his plot, but that can’t be harvested now, he reminds us. It will be ready in February at the earliest and more likely March, he says.

When to harvest carrots, sprouts and more

If you planted carrots around July, then they should be ready to harvest as they take between 60-75 days to grow, from the planting date. You will be able to tell as their little orange shoulders will show, but this largely depends on the variety.

And, it you have runner beans, Brussels sprouts or spinach among the treats in your garden then they can usually be harvested at this time of year also – if they’re ready. Delicious.

Wondering how to grow carrots? We can help!

More gardening ideas:

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.