Tomato harvesting time is the best time of the gardening season. The first few cherry tomatoes that end up on the vine never make it to the house. They go directly from the vine to my mouth! However, the larger tomatoes get picked and made into just about anything with a tomato base; salsa, sauce, juice, etc. Here are 5 tips on harvesting tomatoes for your next season of these beneficial fruits.
5. Wear Gloves
Picking a few tomatoes at a time usually doesn’t cause a problem for people. When there are a lot to harvest, it’s often easier to wear gloves. The stems of tomato plants have coarse hair, which can be an irritant to some people. It’s also less uncomfortable when you accidentally grab onto an insect while wearing gloves. You might be less likely to drop your tomato in surprise!
4. Pull Tomatoes Gently off the Vine
It’s very easy to rip off an entire chunk of your tomato plant when pulling the fruit off of it. It’s best to hold the tomato firmly in one hand and grab the stem with the other hand as you pull on the tomato. Some fruits will almost fall off the vine and into your hand, but it’s best to not yank on them.
3. Check the Plants Daily
Tomatoes can quickly go from being perfect to being pecked to death by the local crow. I learned the hard way to check plants daily for tomatoes, in order to beat the birds and bugs to them.
2. Have a Separate Bucket for Bad Tomatoes
Even the tomatoes with holes or small bruises can still be used. It will make sorting them out easier if you do the sorting right off the vine. I have one bucket for perfectly good tomatoes and one for tomatoes with blemishes.
1. Don’t Pile Too Many into the Bucket
Just because you are harvesting tomatoes with a 5 gallon bucket, this doesn’t mean you have to fill the bucket to the top. I’ve had many weaker tomatoes turned into squashed masses because I tried to keep my trips from the garden to the house as few as possible. You can eliminate damaged tomatoes by only filling the buckets half full.
I usually like to harvest the tomatoes on my own, just to avoid any damaged fruit. Now that the kids are older, I’ve taught them how to help without losing any tomatoes in the process. Do you have any tomato harvesting tips you’d like to share? What types of tomatoes do you like to plant most of all?
Top Photo Credit: NaPix -- Hmong Soul