Are you growing bay leaf in California, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?
Harvesting bay leaf is not as easy as it seems.
- Bay Leaf have a very short window when they can be harvested and still taste great.
So if you harvest them too early they may not be ready and taste bad. And if you harvest them too late they may become infected with mold, fungus, insects, etc., and become inedible.
Today, I’m going to teach you the ideal time to harvest bay leaf in California:
- To Learn More About HOW to Grow Bay Leaf, Check Out This GUIDE!
When Do I Harvest Bay Leaf in California?
As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your bay leaf: the physical features of the bay leaf & weather (time).
Harvest Bay Leaf if They Look Like This!!!
The physical features of bay leaf are what most gardeners commonly rely on to determine if they are ready to be picked off the plant or not.
In general, you should harvest bay leaf if they have the following physical features:
- The entire bay leaf is a solid red color. If the bay leaf is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
- The bay leaf is slightly soft. Too hard means it is not ready. Too soft means it is overripe (but still edible)
- Easily able to be deattached from the the plant. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs and is ready.
Harvest Your Bay Leaf During THIS Time of Year!!!
In general, you should harvest bay leaf:
- 65 to 85 days after starting bay leaf from seed
- 40 to 50 days after planting bay leaf in your garden
- 20 to 30 days after bay leaf first appear
And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your bay leaf before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your bay leaf plant and make your bay leaf inedible.
For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in California. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.
California Last & First Frost Dates
It should be noted that you should not overly rely on the first frost of the year. The average first frost of the year is only correct 30% of the time.
Instead, pay close attention to your local weather.
When you know a frost is coming you need to take action.
- If bay leaf are in pots, bring them inside
- If bay leaf are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
- Pick all bay leaf. If they are not ready, place them in a brown paper bag and store them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks to see if they become edible.
If you want to learn WHEN to harvest ANY Vegetable in California, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.