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After all your hard work in the garden planting and tending to your tomato plants, the end goal is finally in sight - fruits! But how do you know when the tomatoes are ripe, and when you can pick the fruits to produce the maximum amount of tomatoes without affecting the vigour of the plant?
With so many varieties of tomatoes available, this is not always a simple answer. However, there are a few guidelines that can help indicate when the tomatoes are ready to be picked which will help you to successfully harvest your crop.
Pick your tomatoes during the summer, and certainly before the first frost of the season. The weather during the season will affect the time your tomatoes are ripe. Sunnier weather will cause your tomatoes to ripen earlier, although they may be more orange in colour than red.
Tomatoes are generally ready to harvest 50-100 days after germination, depending on variety. Pick your tomatoes regularly to prevent over-ripening on the vine, every 2 days during the peak growing season.
2. Colour change
Ripe tomatoes will often change colour to red (or with some varieties orange, yellow, pink and purple), but this can be hard to detect with some varieties. Deepening colour is a very good indicator that the tomato is ripe. Check the bottom of the tomato for a change in colour as this will ripen first.
Look for a change in the skin surface too. A ripe tomato will change from a dull, matt appearance to a glossy, shiny one.
The tomato should give slightly when it is pressed. If it is hard it requires more time to ripen. Ensure there are no soft spots on the tomato as this is likely to lead to bruising, followed by rot. Remove any soft tomatoes from the vine.
A ripe tomato will smell sweet and earthy at the stem. This is also an indication of strong flavour within the tomato.
5. Early harvesting
Don’t forget, tomatoes can be harvested when they are still green and allowed to ripen off the vine.
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