tagryn: Owl icon (Default)
I'm probably like a lot of other vegetable gardeners in SoMD in having many still-green tomatoes on the vine as we start to get frost and freezes at night. So far, covering up the plants has saved what's still out there, but in a few weeks it'll get too cold for that to work, so I did some research online for what to do with the fruit that still isn't ripe yet. I'm sharing here what I found with hopes that it can help other gardeners.

First, prepare the plant by removing any remaining flowers and cutting back watering. This stresses the plant and signals it to stop expending energy putting out blossoms and instead use it to ripen what fruits remain. Also this site recommends root pruning, which it describes as "taking a spade and pressing it into the soil about 6-8 inches. Do this in a circle, one foot from the base of the plant. By doing this you will sever parts of the root which will usually hasten ripening."

When the time comes when covering the plant over night is no longer a viable option - usually around the time of the first hard freeze - remove all fruit and place them inside in cardboard boxes, away from light, and they should slowly ripen on their own. A variant on this is to dig the plant up and hang it, fruit and vine, in a garage or basement where the fruit should, again, slowly ripen. Reportedly the fruit you get from these methods isn't quite as tasty as what you'd get during the prime summer season, but it should still be very usable.

The "trick" of putting still-green tomatoes in paper bags or jars to turn them red is fairly well known, but the consensus here is that all that does is change the color of the fruit, it doesn't really do much in way of making them ripe and ready to eat.

(cross-posted here)

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tagryn

May 2017

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