Perfect Timing For Growing Tomatoes

Sometimes, the most difficult part of growing tomatoes is harvesting them. Some people just hate to pluck them from their natural spot. Others simply aren’t sure when the “perfect” time to pluck them from the vine is.

Their fear isn’t without foundation. After all, fruit that is fully vine-ripened provides you with a fuller flavor than fruit picked early and allowed to ripen in your house somewhere.

On the other hand, if you pick some tomatoes, especially the cherry variety, too late, they’re prone to cracking.

So what’s a novice farmer to do? For one thing, know that once temperatures in the day dip below 60 degrees, your fruit will refuse to ripen on the vine. If bad comes to worse, the temperature is your perfect signal that it’s time to bring all the mature fruits inside.

So how can you tell when a tomato is ready to leave the vine during other times throughout the growing season?

If you’re selecting only one or two for your family’s meals on a daily basis, you obviously want to pluck the ripest tomatoes you can find and allow the rest to stay behind to ripen more.

It’s fairly easy to tell a ripe tomato: first look at the color of it. When it turns from the unripe green to its true color (usually red, but there are the other colors too!), that’s your first indication that your fruit is ready.

The next test is to feel it. Tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe are rather firm and the skin is tight. A ripe tomato, while firm, will have a little “give” when you gently squeeze it.

Still in doubt? Look at your vines. Pick a tomato you think might be ripe. Taste it. It’s not like anyone is going to charge you for this. How does it taste? If it’s not mature yet, you’ll know it right away because it lacks that explosion of flavor homegrown tomatoes have.

Maybe you picked one that’s overripe. How would you know that? These taste starchy.

Ultimately, flavor is the name of the game. So your goal is to attempt to leave the tomato on the vine for as long as you possibly can. While a tomato can change its color after you pick it, this really doesn’t affect its flavor, believe it or not.

Joan Adams is a tomato growing expert. For more tomato growing tips [], visit [].

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