12 Vegetables to Avoid Harvesting and Eating in August

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: October 8, 2023
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It may feel counterintuitive not to harvest some of your delicious produce in the heart of summer. However, some vegetables are best left for eating later in the year after the high temperatures start to fade. Here are twelve vegetables to avoid harvesting and eating in August.

Cilantro can not survive the heat of the summer and the plant will almost immediately go to seed.

1. Peas

Fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas are an absolute delight. Grocery store peas can’t hold a candle to homegrown. Unfortunately, pea plants are not a fan of high heat. So if you somehow manage to keep yours alive into August….first of all, kudos! The kicker is that even if pea plants survive into August, the flavor profile won’t be the same. It is best to focus on other tasty vegetables during this time and replant peas for a fall harvest.

Peas in a pod growing on a plant

Peas don’t grow well in heat, and any that do survive into August won’t taste well.

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2. Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a popular garden vegetable, and not just for Halloween! Pie pumpkins are easy to grow and easy to store. However, they are very much a fall crop. In most growing regions, pumpkins aren’t ready for harvest until at least September. So, even if your pumpkins look close to ready and you are tempted to harvest them, wait. You’ll love the flavor you get when they are fully ripe.

pile of orange pumpkins

Pumpkins are not ready for harvest until later in the fall.


3. Winter Squash

We all love (and then maybe dread) the ample summer squash harvest that starts early in the year and carries us through the summer. But winter squash doesn’t develop that quickly. Like pumpkins, all winter squash varieties take longer to grow. Wait until this fall crop is fully ripe before attempting to harvest it.

Kabocha squash on a vine in a field

Winter squash takes longer to grow than summer squash and isn’t ready to harvest in August.


4. Spinach

This tasty green is so easy to grow early in the summer it may feel like you can keep yourself in stock for months on end. Alas, that is not the case. Spinach plants bolt rapidly during periods of high heat, which means August is not the time for this popular leafy vegetable. When a plant bolts, it puts all its efforts into flowering and developing seeds. That means less flavor in the leaves. 

Green spinach grown in rows.

Spinach grows abundantly, but not in August.


5. Specialty Beans

Most green beans start growing rapidly in August. They absolutely love heat and need those long, hot days to produce. But that is not the case for all beans. Some specialty beans take much longer to reach maturity. Those won’t be ready to pick until September. So double-check the variety you planted and their maturity dates before heading out with your harvesting basket. 

Black Beans

Specialty beans, like black beans, take longer to reach maturity than other bean varieties.


6. Mustard Greens

If you like a bit of kick to your steamed greens, add mustard greens to your garden. This easy-to-grow plant develops quickly, ensuring you have a fantastic harvest. But, this is not the case for August. Mustard greens and heat don’t get along. Wait to plant and harvest this vegetable until the weather starts cooling off.

mustard plants in the nursery, mustard greens growing in pots, mustard leaves close up.

Mustard greens and heat don’t get along. Wait to plant and harvest this vegetable until the weather starts cooling off.

©ByPict projects/Shutterstock.com

7. Leeks

Leeks belong to the onion family and are relatively underrated in the culinary world. If you tried your hand at planting them this year, you might be eager to start cooking. Wait a little longer, though. Leeks take a long time to develop and aren’t at their peak size (and flavor) in August.

Fresh leeks (Allium porrum)

Leeks take a long time to reach maturity and are not ready for harvest in August in most growing regions.


8. Tatsoi

You may not be familiar with tatsoi. This delicious green is somewhat similar to bok choy. It has a mild and slightly bitter flavor and is delicious in stir-fries. However, like most other leafy greens, it quickly bolts in the heat. So avoid planting and harvesting this vegetable in August. Wait until the weather cools. It is worth it.

tatsoi greens

Tatsoi is similar to bok choy and does not like the heat.

©Irwan Ridwan Cholid/ via Getty Images

9. Bok Choy

There are some fantastic bok choy varieties on the market. You should consider growing one or more of these Asian greens… just not in August. The delicate plants prefer colder weather. So during the height of summer, they will bolt rapidly, and you won’t get a good harvest.

Fresh Bok choy. six separate green plants with large oval leaves with obvious veins lay in a woven reed basket, behind them, three more bok plant rest on a woven reed plate. Background go out-of-focus rattan wall.

Fresh bok choy tastes delicious most months, but not in August, when the heat makes the leaves bitter.


10. Cilantro

While cilantro is a favorite in herb gardens, it cannot survive in the heat of summer. You will have no trouble getting your seeds to germinate. However, the plant will almost immediately go to seed. And that process will damage the flavor of the cilantro. Since the reason to plant cilantro is for the flavorful leaves, it is best to wait for cooler weather.

cilantro in garden

Cilantro bolts almost immediately in August heat.


11. Potatoes

Waiting for potatoes to grow can often feel like a never-ending process. So when the big August harvest starts, it may feel like you should start digging up the tubers. Depending on your growing zone, some young potatoes may be ready. But the bulk of the crop isn’t done developing yet. Wait a bit longer for a larger and more flavorful harvest.

New raw red potatoes in paper bags on wooden background

Depending on your growing zone, some young potatoes may be ready, but wait a bit longer for a larger and more flavorful harvest.

©Goskova Tatiana/Shutterstock.com

12. Radishes

One of the easiest and most beginner-friendly vegetables to grow is radishes. If you are new to gardening, you may assume you can keep up the succession planting all summer. Unfortunately, they don’t do well during the hottest part of the year. The seeds will develop fantastic green leaves quickly. However, the root won’t grow. At least they are quick-growing plants, so there is still time to get in at least one more harvest if you wait until September to plant them.

Radish plant growing in soil in garden.

Radishes don’t do well during the hottest part of the year.

©Natallia Ploskaya/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 12 Vegetables to Avoid Harvesting and Eating in August

3Winter Squash
5Specialty Beans
6Mustard Greens
9Bok Choy
Summary Table of 12 Vegetables to Avoid Harvesting and Eating in August

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Max Lindenthaler/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

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