How long can you harvest tomatoes?

photoman509March 26, 2010

This will be my first real year gardening and I am wondering how long you can harvest tomatoes? how long are they edible on the vine? Thanks and if anyone has any photography questions I would be happy to help a :)

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lazy_gardens

They can be harvested as the first sign of red color (blush) and allowed to ripen on the counter of your kitchen all the way through solid red and starting to get soft (dead ripe). After that you risk having it more dead than ripe.

It's your choice when to pick.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 6:40PM
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catman529(6b)

What lazygardens said, plus I might add that you can pick them at full ripeness on the vine as well, but once they're ripe you probably don't want to let them stay on the vine too long.

As far as how long you can harvest them, most varieties will produce right up till the first frost in the autumn.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 8:50PM
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photoman509

Thanks guys, I am also curious how long the window generally is from when they just become pickable to the end, a month two months? My family generally eats about $40 worth of tomatoes a month and I am trying to figure out how many plants I should plant I dont want a ton of plants if there only edible for a month. Thanks :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 1:09PM
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mrs.b_in_wy(5a WY)

Welcome photoman.

If I understand correctly, you're wondering how long the plants will be productive? For how many months the tomato plants from your garden can offset the $40 monthly tomato bill?

If that's what your wondering, like catman said, most varieties can produce until the frost takes them (meaning they continue to bloom and set fruit). I would generally define "most varieties" as indeterminates, as the determinate varieties tend to set most of their fruit in a concentrated time period. I understand the determinates sometimes set a second crop in some areas of the country where the season is longer and warmer (not here!).

"Date to maturity" means different things to different gardeners. Some find it means the number of days from sowing a seed to the first ripe fruit. Others find it means the number of days from setting out a transplant (that might already be 6-8 weeks old, or so). Still others find DTM to be a combination of the two.

In my case, I'm using May 20 as the last spring frost date. I hope to have the first fresh, ripe tomatoes by late July/early August (didn't happen last year), continuing through the late September (early October with frost protection). Our season is pretty short and pretty cool. Yours may be much better.

If I completely misunderstood your question, please post again. Type slowly :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:02PM
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junktruck

yeah i picked my last few maters the last week of sept here but i got the last of my red bell peppers the first of nov
seemed kinda weird to me heheh

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:08PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

photoman

It all depends on when your first frost occurs and whether or not your tomato plants stay healthy throughout the summer. Mine rarely do, but by the time they expire for one reason or another, I've had so many tomatoes I don't care!

Let's just say that your tomatoes begin ripening in late June or early July. They'll continue until your first fall frost occurs, which might be in late October. Indeterminate tomato plants can churn out an awful lot of tomatoes during a 3-4 month period. Some people keep records and say it can be 30-50 pounds per plant. But you can't absolutely count on that in case disease takes over as it did last year for many people in the NorthEast.

At any rate, if you plant 3 or 4 indeterminate tomato plants per person in your household, you'll eventually be swimming in tomatoes, giving them away, and have plenty to can or freeze to use for sauces as well.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 4:05PM
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robertz6

I keep my plants in the ground long after other neighbors have given up in our zone 6 climate. I usually have toms into the end of October and first ten days of November.

I like a mix of tomatoes, and plant six to ten types of big and cherry tomatoes. About twenty to twenty-five plants. Some heirloom and some hybrids. And I plant them over a two week or three week time period.

Late in the season, a neighbor takes the real green ones for fried green tomatoes, and I keep anything that might turn ripe. In October, the cherry toms have more taste than large tomatoes, so the cherry plants are the last to be pulled out.

Don't be too picky about clean up; last year I had to rely on the volunter plants that came up in the ground after my basement seedlings wilted.

July 4th (or the next week) until November, that is my estimate for Zone 6.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 4:24PM
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wordwiz

$40 per month? You must have a family the size of the Waltons! Even at the ridiculous prices stores are charging now, that's still 5 pounds per week. Translating that into how many to grow, something like a Delicious should produce about 2-3 pounds per stalk per week in a decent season.

Seriously, if you all love maters and consume that much, I would look into buying something like a 400 watt HPS or 125 watt LED system and raise six at a time. You could feast on real maters the year-round and save.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 7:08PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

I attended a talk by a professional organic gardener who said that they plant a second crop of cherry tomatoes mid-summer (sorry, I am blanking on the date). Because our autumns are staying warmer longer (Massachusetts), she said they can harvest cherry tomatoes to the end of October.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:49PM
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