No matter how you say it, the tomato is a wonderful fruit that adds variety and flavor to any dish. Gardeners love tomatoes for their vibrant colors, health benefits, and delicious taste.
Whether growing tomatoes in your backyard garden or harvesting them for local farmers’ markets, it is essential to know the proper tomato harvest time. If you don’t have a self-watering tomato planter, you may feel tempted to pick your tomatoes every time you water them.
Rookie tomato growers often jump the gun and collect tomatoes before they are ready. Other times, they procrastinate and harvest rotten tomatoes.
A Garden Patch knows everything about growing tomatoes and is here with all the answers. Below are the signs that indicate your delicious fruits are ready for harvest.
Look at the Color
As with any other fruit, tomatoes change color as they grow. They typically are green when young and change to red as they mature. However, tomatoes come in many colors.
Ripe tomatoes are not always red. Depending on the type, they can be yellow, green, and even purple come harvest time. If they are ready for harvest, they will have a deep, rich color.
In some cases, red, yellow, or green tomatoes can have stripes or patterns. For example, a “Mr. Stripey” heirloom tomato and a “Sunrise Bumblebee” cherry tomato likely won’t have solid coloring.
Examine How Glossy the Tomatoes Are
Ripe tomatoes are beautiful because of their rich colors and glossy texture. You can easily tell a tomato is unripe when it looks matte or dull.
Some tomato varieties can be multi-colored when ripe, making it difficult to determine when it is harvest time. That is why you should always check the glossiness of your tomatoes.
Checking the texture is especially helpful when you have tomatoes of different sizes. You may consider leaving a fully ripe tomato on the vine if it is smaller than the others. However, if it has the same glossiness as the other ripe tomatoes, it is probably ready for harvest.
If you are like most other gardeners, smelling your plants is one of the most enjoyable parts of having a green thumb. Your sense of smell can help determine whether your tomato plants have ripe fruit.
When your tomatoes are ready for harvest, they will smell deliciously fragrant. However, unripe tomatoes will not have a scent.
Remember, a fragrant smell means a flavorful tomato. When smelling your tomatoes, get your nose as close as possible to the fruit to more easily detect distracting smells from the rest of the plant.
Are They Easy To Remove?
In most cases, your tomatoes will tell you when they are ready for harvest. They will also tell you when they are not.
If you see a tomato you think is ready to eat, try tugging on it. If the fruit comes off the plant with ease, it is tomato harvest time. However, if you need to tug harder on it, it still needs time to ripen.
How’s the Consistency?
While some of the other signs on this list are easily detectable, consistency requires more careful handling of the fruit.
If you are a seasoned gardener with years of tomato-growing experience, testing consistency may come as second nature. However, if you are new to growing tomato plants, you may need some practice.
Ripe tomatoes are softer than young, unripe tomatoes but firmer than rotten ones.
To test the consistency, gently take a tomato between your forefinger and thumb. Unripe tomatoes will have little give, while rotten ones will easily squish.
Since tomatoes ripen from the bottom up, you can also determine consistency by giving the bottom a slight squeeze.
How Long Do Tomatoes Need To Grow?
Since there is more than one tomato variety, growing times can differ.
If you planted your tomatoes as seeds, read the package to see how long they will grow. If you got your tomatoes from a nursery, you could check the tag that came with the original pot.
In most cases, pre-planted tomatoes will be ready for harvest between 65 and 80 days after transplanting them into the ground.
Keep in mind that indeterminate tomatoes have different growth rates, so not all fruits on the same plant ripen at the same time.
Can Tomatoes Ripen Off the Vine?
Another reason gardeners love tomatoes is that they continue ripening even after you remove them from the vine.
Although tomatoes develop a richer flavor when ripened on the vine, you can still enjoy tomatoes ripened indoors. The best way to ensure they ripen correctly off the vine is by storing them in your home at room temperature (between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
For best results, wrap your immature tomato in a paper bag or paper towel. As the fruit ripens, it releases ethylene gas, which is responsible for ripening tomatoes. Wrapping the fruit traps this gas and promotes ripening.
GrowBox: Your Tomatoes’ Best Friend
Tomatoes are delicious, beautiful fruits that can enhance any garden. As such, they require lots of work.
Like any other plant, tomatoes rely on adequate nutrients and space to grow healthy and delicious fruits. Unfortunately, inexperienced gardeners often fail to deliver essential nutrients or give their plants enough space to develop roots.
If this sounds like you, there’s no need to fret. The Garden Patch GrowBox is every tomato’s best friend.
It solves common gardening problems by providing perfect spacing and vital nutrient packs. The GrowBox is especially helpful for busy gardeners because it has self-watering and automatic fertilizing capabilities.
The GrowBox eliminates guesswork by giving your tomatoes everything they need to develop firm, juicy fruits. It can even provide your tomatoes with dolomite for an extra growth boost!
Do you notice browning leaves on tomato plants in your garden or need more tips on determining tomato harvest time? We can help.
Call (800) 519-1955 today to learn more about growing tomatoes or to order your Garden Patch GrowBox!