Saturday, September 20, 2014

Late Season Tomato Growing Tips

This year has been awesome for tomato growing! Early warm weather, late warm weather and limited rains have promoted huge fruit set and very limited diseases in my garden - all of that is about to change. Heavy rain is forecast for next week; in my garden it is officially time to move into fall and winter gardening mode.

For the past several weeks I have trimmed new growth, removed small fruit, watered deeply once or twice a week, and watched for diseases. This evening I plan to pick any cracked fruit to ripen inside, remove all fruit that won’t mature before the first week in October. The night before the heavy rain is forecast I’ll pick any fruit that has started to color to ripen inside. How late I leave the plants in the garden will depend on the weather and the health of the plants.
Green tomatoes harvested from The Campbell Community Garden, October 11, 2012. At least 3/4 of these ripened in my garage. We were able to donate ripe tomatoes to the food pantry for Thanksgiving dinner!

Most years I have had excellent results with ripening green tomatoes in my garage. Two years ago we picked six boxes of green tomatoes and most all ripened (we had tomatoes for Thanksgiving!) Last year September was wet and cool, disease set into the plants and nearly all of the tomatoes rotted from blight.

How I ripen tomatoes indoors:
  • Pick mature fruit (mature tomatoes have turned from deep green to whitish and have well-formed seeds inside).
  • Near ripe tomatoes are spread out one tomato deep in card bard boxes and left in my garage to finish up.
  • Green tomatoes are wrapped individually in newspaper and layered tow or three deep in card board boxes; a couple of times a week I inspect them and move riper tomatoes to the top of each box, any damaged fruit is tossed.

The Gardensmith's homegrown canned tomatoes
Canned tomatoes: So far this year I have canned 46 pints of tomatoes...29 to go to meet my goal of 75 jars!
While it isn't completely over yet, I declare the 2014 tomato harvest a bountiful success!

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