I’d pondered this issue when I first started growing tomatoes. Reading advice from various experts, the “ideal” first choice is to allow the tomatoes to ripen on the vine, are fully red (or other color, such as yellow, depending on the variety of tomato), and slightly soft when squeezed. Then you can harvest or pick them. Tomatoes are at their peak of tastiness if harvested in this way.
However, as I mentioned in a previous post, if you’re like many folks (myself included), you may notice that you’re not the only one who’s dreaming of savoring ripe, juicy tomatoes. Birds, insects (such as tomato pinworms – see my previous post on this topic), and other critters are also mindful of the stage of ripeness of the tomatoes – and they love to eat! So what to do?
A good strategy that has worked for me is a hybrid strategy: be mindful of the ripeness of the tomatoes (since one plant can have red, mostly red, and green fruits), and regularly pick all tomatoes that I can spot that are fully red and those that are mostly red. The mostly red tomatoes I harvest are kept on my kitchen counter, at room temperature, continuing their ripening process over the next few days. You can also ripen mostly red tomatoes by placing them in a brown paper bag for a few days, but I just like looking at my freshly picked, ripening tomatoes!
TIP: In my early gardening days, I’d get stressed out if I lost any tomatoes (or other food crops) to garden critters. Nowadays, I plant several more plants. The larger number of plants ensures that I’ll have larger harvests and eat all the tomatoes that I want when I want, knowing that along the way, some tomatoes will be lost to the critters. Unless the plants are completely overtaken by diseases or other serious problems, the simple strategy of growing just a few more tomato plants has more than satisfied my tomato needs (!) without adding much more time with garden maintenance.
CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The non-fruit parts of tomato plants are poisonous if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here: h
Filed under: Gardening, Tip | Tagged: consumer alert, container gardening, fruits, Gardening, harvesting, poisonous, Tip, tomato pinworm, tomatoes, toxic plants, when to harvest tomatoes, when to pick tomatoes |