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Gardening in Washington State

Last Call for Tomatoes!

Those of you growing tomatoes should be harvesting them. So how did you do? Did you have lots of red tomatoes, mostly green or very few? Tomatoes can be very temperamental, and, if not cared for correctly, you can end up with few fruit or mostly green tomatoes. Now is the time to write notes about what did and didn’t work in your garden, so you’ll have something to refer to this winter when you’re planning next year’s plantings.

Harvest

Pick tomato fruits when they reach mature color but still retain some firmness. Size and color will depend on the plant variety selected—yellow, orange, pink, purple, and green varieties exist, as well as the typical red varieties. Tomatoes usually ripen about one month after the fruit begins to show. As the fruits continue to ripen, they will begin to lose firmness, and the flavor may be affected. Tomatoes can be picked early, after the fruit begins to change color, and will continue to ripen off the vine, with best results occurring at temperatures from 68°F to 77°F.

End Uses
Tomatoes are a versatile fruit and can be used in a variety of forms: fresh, frozen, juiced, pickled, stewed, dried, preserved and canned. For details on how to use and store tomato fruit, go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, which offers research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. Additionally, see publication PNW300 Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products.

For more tips on growing tomatoes, see our WSU Fact Sheet FS145E, Vegetables: Growing Tomatoes in Home Gardens.

Submitted by: Gary Fredricks, September 8, 2015

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