Garden Moments: Maximize Your Tomato Harvest

Melinda's Garden Moment

Nationally recognized gardening expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moment television segments. Melinda shares tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  New Melinda’s Garden Moment web tips will be added throughout the growing season, so be sure to check back for timely, seasonal tips to help you be successful in your gardens!

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Maximize Your Tomato Harvest

Grow your best crop of tomatoes yet by extending the beginning and end of the season.

Jump start the season and shorten the number of days to harvest by warming the soil and air. Floating row covers and cloches work like mini greenhouses in the garden. Or make your own from a plastic milk jug. Just remove the bottom and set it over the small transplants. Or wrap tomato cages with clear plastic for large plants.

Extend the harvest season with a bit of frost protection. Those first few frosts are often followed by several weeks of great weather.

Don’t let your unripe tomatoes go to waste.  Pick any tomatoes that are starting to show color and finish ripening them indoors. Store them in a cool, 60- to 65-degree, location to extend their storage life. Speed ripening by moving them into a warm bright location a few days before they’re needed.

A bit more information: Further speed up your harvest by growing early ripening tomato varieties like Early Cascade, Early Girl, 4th of July, Champion and Mountain Spring. Short season tomatoes that tolerate cooler temperatures are a good choice for those with a short growing season. Gardeners in southern areas with hot summers can try heat tolerant tomatoes like Summer Set, Heat Master and Solar Flare.

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About Melinda Myers
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. She has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on over 135 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S.  Myers is also the host of the recently released The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series.  Melinda writes a regular column for Wisconsin Gardening and Chicagoland Gardening magazines. She also writes the twice monthly Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column. Melinda hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for over 20 years as well as seven seasons of Great Lakes Gardener on PBS. Melinda has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. She’s the recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s B.Y. Morrison Communication Award and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. Myers’ website,, features gardening videos, podcasts, monthly gardening checklists and more.

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