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Speed Up the Tomato Harvest

Be the first on your block to harvest a red ripe tomato.

Grow early ripening varieties like Early Girl, Fourth of July and Celebrity, that produce fruit earlier than most tomato varieties.

Further shorten the time to harvest by warming the soil and air. You’ll be able to plant as much as a month earlier than normal. And thanks to the early start and warmer conditions, your plants will start flowering and fruiting sooner.

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 small transplants. Or wrap tomato cages with clear plastic for large plants.

Stake tomatoes to further speed up the harvest. It’s a bit more work, but you’ll have fewer disease problems and the earliest harvest on the block.

A bit more information: When staking tomatoes, place the stake in the ground at planting. As the plants begin to grow, prune off all side branches, often called suckers, that form between the stem and leaf. Loosely tie the remaining one or two stems to the stake. Continue throughout the season.

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