When to Harvest Your Tomatoes This Summer

Growing and Harvesting Tomatoes at Home

Welcome to tomato harvesting season, where you can enjoy one of the flavors of summer in your own raised bed garden.

Tomatoes are considered annual crops in Philadelphia’s climate, meaning they cannot survive the winter and will need to be re-planted each year. At Backyard Eats, we maximize space in our raised bed gardens by growing tomatoes vertically on metal “tomato towers”. This frees up ground-level space for other crops, and contributes to maintenance practices like pruning for pest and disease reduction.

We offer many varieties of tomatoes, so you can enjoy staggered harvests throughout the summer and a variety of textures and flavors! With Backyard Eats, even beginners can successfully learn how to grow and harvest tomatoes at home. Here’s a quick guide on when to harvest your tomatoes this summer:

Types of Tomatoes to Grow

Growing Bite-Sized Tomatoes

Bite-sized tomatoes, known for their sweetness, come in a range of vibrant colors, adding a pop of flavor to dishes. Whether snacking straight from the vine or tossed into salads, they offer a burst of freshness. Roasting intensifies their natural sugars, elevating their taste and making them a versatile ingredient in various recipes.

Growing Plum and Roma Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes, prized for their firm texture and balanced acidity, are a kitchen staple, particularly for sauces and canning. Their sturdy flesh holds up well to cooking methods like simmering and roasting, resulting in rich, flavorful dishes. Whether crafted into a traditional marinara sauce or transformed into a velvety tomato soup, plum tomatoes bring depth and complexity to any recipe.

Growing Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes

Heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes are renowned for their distinct flavors and diverse range of varieties. From the sweet and juicy Brandywine to the unique Black Carbon, each type offers a culinary experience beyond store-bought tomatoes. Whether sliced for a simple yet flavorful snack or incorporated into gourmet dishes like caprese salads or homemade salsas, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes celebrate the rich tapestry of flavors found in nature.

When to Harvest Tomatoes

General Harvesting Advice

Although you might associate ripe tomatoes with a bright red color, tomatoes can actually be harvested any time after the blossom end (bottom) turns yellow or orange. The fruit will continue to ripen off the vine. This can be useful to harvest tomatoes before birds and squirrels, or at the end of the season when frost threatens. Look for fruit that’s slightly soft and easily separates from the vine when tugged.

When to Harvest Bite-Sized Tomatoes

Due to their smaller size, bite-sized tomatoes are typically the first variety of tomato to ripen in summer. Depending on the exact variety they might be a bright red, orange, or yellow color when ripe – like our popular Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. Cherry and grape tomatoes often begin to ripen in mid-July to early August.

When to Harvest Plum and Roma Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes, also known as Roma tomatoes, are an oval-shaped tomato variety with a firm texture and rich flavor that makes them great for tomato sauce. They turn bright red when ripe and mature slightly later, typically from late July to early August.

Harvesting Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes

Heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes are known for their large size and unique shapes and colors. They usually require a longer growing season and may be ready for harvest starting in August and extending into September.


For more information on how and when to harvest your summer tomatoes, visit our Harvest Toolkit for expert advice including storage instructions and recipe ideas! If you’re inspired to grow vegetables at home, book a consultation today to learn how Backyard Eats can help you design, build, and maintain a productive edible landscape.

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