South Carolina Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Know when produce is at its peak

Fresh broccolini, carrots, and asparagus
Luka / Getty Images

South Carolina grows a wonderfully wide variety of produce, and because of the mild climate, is able to harvest year-round. Growing seasons and thus crop availability may vary year-to-year due to weather patterns, but this guide is a good place to start figuring out what fruits and vegetables to expect when.

Apples

A variety of apples, from Granny Smith to Red Delicious, are available August through November. Local apples may be available from storage into spring.

Arugula

This pungent green is freshest April through June, but some farmers use hothouses and hoop houses to extend the growing season, so you may see it available well before April.

Asparagus

Look for freshly cut stems and firm stalks April through June. Earlier crops will be skinnier than later ones; contrary to common misconception, the thickness of the spear does not indicate how tender or delicious the asparagus will be.

Basil

Locally grown May through September, this fresh herb has a nice long season. Be sure to store basil properly to keep it fresh longer. You can turn large batches into pesto, which freezes beautifully and tastes amazing come January.

Beans

This vegetable's nice long season (available May through October) is the result of plants continuing to flower.

Beets

Spring beets are offered April through June, often sold with their greens attached (cook them like mustard greens). Beets are in-season again as larger specimens in the fall and into winter from storage.

Blueberries

Cultivated varieties are developed to fruit at different stages, keeping the season fairly long in warmer climes, stretching from May through August.

Bok Choy

This cold weather crop, at its peak October through June, adds crunch to salads and stir-fries.

Broccoli

Like many cruciferous vegetables, broccoli doesn't fair very well in the heat, turning bitter. It is freshest May through June and October through December.

Brussels Sprouts

During the months of November through February, look for sprouts sold on their stalk for ultimate freshness (just be sure to store them off the stalk once you get them home).

Cabbage

Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, this cruciferous vegetable tastes best when the air is cooler, during the months of October through May.

Cantaloupe

This melon is at its peak June through August. Make sure to smell it before you buy it; it should smell like how you hope it will taste.

Carrots

The season for mature carrots in the fall morphs right into the season for true baby, field-thinning carrots in the spring, running from October through May.

Cauliflower

This vegetable is in season October through December. Choose cauliflower heads that feel heavy for their size, and remember that their leaves are tasty when chopped and cooked like bok choy or cabbage.

Celery

As with most vegetables, you want celery that feels heavy for its size. It is at its peak October through February.

Chard

Look for this leafy green during the months of October through May. These bright bunches are best when the cut stem-ends look fresh and the leaves are full and vibrant.

Collard Greens

To find this green at its peak, look for stiff, hearty leaves October through June. The vegetable will need a long cooking time to tenderize.

Corn

Tight, moist-looking (but not damp) husks are what you want to look for during the months of June and July. A worm here or there just means the corn wasn't sprayed with insecticide. 

Cucumbers

Locally grown cucumbers are available June through August, perfect to enjoy during the hot summer months.

Edamame

Firm pods full of solid beans are the item of choice June through September.

Eggplant

Tight, shiny skins and vegetables that feel heavy for their size will be the best at the market June through October.

Figs

Fig fans will be happy to know these fruits have 2 seasons: July and August as well as a second crop come fall. These delicate fruits require special handling, so buy them last and balance them on top of all the other produce.

Garlic

This aromatic is freshest May through October but is also available from storage year-round.

Green Garlic

A result of farmers thinning the fields, green garlic is a delight to eat in the spring and available March through May.

Grapes

During the months of July through October, ask to taste before you buy to make sure you're choosing grapes that meet your sweetness needs.

Kale

Look for fresh stems and vibrant leaves October through May.

Leeks

Buy during the months of October through May. Dirt hides between those leaves, especially if it's been raining, so give them a good cleaning before cooking them.

Lettuce

September through June is when you will find it at its peak. One look tells you if lettuce is fresh (no wilting, no browning).

Melons

Make sure it feels heavy for its size for a fully ripe, tasty melon, which is at its peak June through September.

Mushrooms (Cultivated)

This is one of the few types of produce available fresh year-round. They are best stored in a paper bag (instead of plastic) in the fridge.

Okra

This Southern favorite has a luxuriously long growing season, May through October.

Onions

Although available from storage year-round, this aromatic's peak season is March through November.

Parsnips

These root vegetables can get woody, so, during the months of October through December, look for thinner ones that feel heavy for their size.

Peaches

A favorite Southern fruit, peaches are at their peak May through August. They should be heavy for their size and have a beautiful peachy smell.

Peanuts

Another Southern specialty, look for peanuts September through December. Many markets will have vendors selling boiled and/or fried peanuts alongside fresh ones.

Peas and Pea Pods

The warm clime makes this season deliciously early, peaking from February through May.

Pecans

Buy these quintessential Southern nuts September through December in their shells, ready to crack.

Peppers

Tight, shiny skins are what to look for June through September if you want the best peppers.

Persimmons

Pick this fruit in the months of September through November; make sure they are heavy in the hand and fragrant.

Plums and Pluots

Different trees ripen at different times, but any individual tree tends to come on like gangbusters during the months of May through July.

Potatoes

This root vegetable is at its peak May through August, and available from storage through the winter.

Radishes

Look for bunches with vibrant leaves still attached (which work great in salads) during the months of March through June.

Spinach

The cooler weather of November through May means less-bitter and less-tannic spinach.

Squash (Summer)

When buying squash May through October, avoid woody squash by choosing smaller ones that feel heavy for their size.

Squash (Winter)

These squash have a tougher skin than the summer varieties and are at their peak August through December.

Strawberries

The freshest berries are available April through June. Like all berries, when you buy too many, freeze for later use.

Sweet Onions

Savor these sweet aromatics during their short season of May and June.

Sweet Potatoes

Locally grown sweet potatoes are available August through February. Like all root vegetables, these will store the longest if you don't clean them until you're ready to use. A paper or loosely wrapped plastic bag will protect your veggie drawer from the dirt.

Tomatoes

For the reddest and juiciest tomatoes, buy during the months of June through October. Store them at room temperature, or pop them in the freezer to use for sauce in the future. Do not place in the fridge as it turns them mealy.

Turnips

Available October through April, this is another root vegetable whose main season in the fall runs into the "baby" season in the spring.

Watermelons

A true summer treat, this melon is at its peak June through September. There are many hints and myths on how to choose a tasty watermelon, but everyone agrees a good melon should feel very heavy for its size.

Zucchini

These green squash, freshest May through October, can get so prolific you can't give them away if you grow your own. Avoid the giant ones, since they don't have as much flavor as smaller zucchini.

Zucchini Blossoms

The beautiful flowers at the end of the zucchini are available May through September. Tradition says to fry them up, but they're also delicious chopped and tossed into salads.