Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bountiful Harvest

Click HERE for all the Year One 2009 Square Foot Vegetable Garden Updates

Not a bad start, huh?

Well, not really the start I suppose since I've been eating out of the garden here and there - at least the cukes and the squash anyway. I've actually eaten more squash than what is pictured, but... the tomatoes are really only just starting to come in.

Now, the age-old question. When is the best time to harvest tomatoes?

Do you let them fully ripen on the vine?

Or, do you harvest them just as they begin to change color and let them finish ripening on the kitchen counter?

Or, do you leave them in the warm sun of a kitchen window to ripen?

I tend to pick them just as they begin to turn pinkish colored for two reasons really. Once they color, they become very desirable to critters and I do not want to share my tomatoes with the critters after all this wait!

But second, I have always heard that it is best to harvest them this way, especially in the heat of the south. Once they begin to change color, they are pretty much finished with the vine they are on and are no longer taking in any nutrients from it, I hear. At that point, the vine is basically just a support for the tomato to hang on as it ripens, so it really serves the tomato no purpose to be there once the color comes.

Down south, if we wait till they are fully ripened on the vine, then we'd better be ready to use them up, can them or freeze them right away - otherwise they'll be rotten pretty quick. Can't have that!

So I pick 'em when they're pink and then I just let them ripen naturally on the counter in the kitchen, but never in the sun of a window, since that'd be pretty much the same as leaving them outside on the vine. Well, except for the critter thing. I suppose if I wanted a fully ripened tomato faster, the window would be the way to go.

The tomato in the picture that is deepest red was picked only three days ago, the other, the next day. Both were pink and only beginning to turn when I picked them, so you see, they finish ripening pretty quick once inside. Those two are pretty much ready to eat and will go on a sandwich or in a salad in the very near future - but, if I'm lucky enough to get a bunch of them changing color at the same time, I'll be putting some up for sure!


  1. WOW--nice pickings. I just got my squash plant in the ground a couple of weeks ago. We have had lots of cucumbers, sugar snap peas and broccoli so far--I think we got about 5 heads of broccoli. My bok choy is looking really good too. We have about 40 tomato plants--long story!!--any way--a couple of them have tons of tomatoes on them--can't wait until they get ripe. I just love having a garden. We are already planning for next years garden. I have lots of other things I want to try then. Oh yeah, I usually pick my tomatoes when they start to get ripe--I don't like to wait--seems the critters like them the longer I leave them on the vine. Sheila in NC

  2. Isn't it so much fun when you get to pick and eat after all the work you've put into a garden! I can't wait for our tomatoes... nothing like homegrown tomatoes!

  3. I am so jealous! We still have weeks before harvesting anything!

  4. Oh, you're so lucky!!! All the veggies look just gorgeous :D

  5. Sheila, I usually only grow the basics - tomatoes, cukes, squash, green beans and bell peppers. My bell peppers are just not cooperating this year at all - I don't know what it is! And course I ended up restarting all of the beans, so it'll be awhile before I see any. I've never ventured into anything like broccoli or bok choy! If I only got to grow one thing it'd be tomatoes! Looks like you'll be canning or freezing a few of those!

    Karen, you are so right!

    Michelle, your veggies will be in before you know it! Can't wait to see them.

    Thanks Heather!

  6. What fabulous color. As to the tomatoes...whenever possible I'll leave them on the vine. I swear the taste is better.

  7. I live in western Kentucky and we always let the tomatoes ripen on the vine. It seems to have much more taste that way. BTW I am loving your blog!


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