This summer has exposed people all over the world to record-breaking heat — and your garden is probably feeling it too. To ensure this doesn’t harm your tomato crop, an Instagram Reel encourages gardeners to pick their tomatoes early, even if they haven’t turned red yet.
She explains that when temperatures hit over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, tomatoes can lose the ability to produce pigments such as carotene and lycopene that cause the fruit to turn red when it’s ripe. This can cause quite the conundrum for the average gardener — who likely knows what a ripe tomato should look like but doesn’t have the red color to confirm.
If your tomato is ready to be picked, it will have some give to it when you squeeze it — even if it’s still green — and will detach from the vine with a gentle pull.
Burke recommends picking these green tomatoes because they will keep ripening after being picked.
“Don’t stress. Just pick your green and blushing tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen,” she explains.
Masterclass suggests letting green tomatoes ripen in a breathable container on a sunny windowsill.
How it’s helping
Tomatoes produce ethylene gas, which helps them continue ripening after they’re picked. Masterclass reports that some commercial growers actually often pick their tomatoes still green to avoid overripening during transport.
Picking your green tomatoes will also ensure that they don’t become overripe before you can eat them — saving you money at the grocery store and filling your kitchen with produce that’s about as fresh as you can find.
Reports say that this fresh local food actually tastes better, and it’s great for the environment too.
When you grow your own food, you can control how it’s grown — specifically, if it’s grown with any pesticides. Plenty of eco-friendly ways exist to keep pests out of the garden, but most haven’t been adapted for commercial farms.
While the Environmental Protection Agency reports that there’s not a significant enough amount of pesticides in commercial produce to cause harm to humans, these pesticides can still cause harm to other animals, such as birds and fish, as well as to other plants.
Growing your own produce allows you to step away from those pesticides while building a new hobby and saving some money in the process.
What everyone’s saying
Burke’s followers were thrilled to learn that they still had a viable tomato crop — even if they were still green.
“So good to know! I was wondering what I’ve done wrong!” wrote one.
Another had a similar sentiment, saying, “I’m going to pick some green ones now! Thank you!”
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