Sunday, October 7

Tomato Harvest in October?

I haven't blogged about my tomatoes yet this summer for a very good reason. Other than the garden snackers--er, cherry tomatoes--most of them have not yet ripened. How can this be? Well, I am too embarrassed to tell you exactly when I finally got them into the ground, but suffice it to say that it was a lot later than I should have!

Memorial Day is usually my tomato planting time, but this year they went into the ground closer to the next big summer holiday. *gulp* Since I knew I was planting very late I stuck with already established plants and strictly planted paste style tomatoes since they ripen fairly early and keep well.

The picture here shows what the vines looked like this morning: loaded with fruit, all still sporting a shade of yellowish green and nary a speck of orange, even, in sight. Today's high will be 86 and tomorrow's high will be 88, but then the highs drop back down into the 70s.

So... expert tomato growers, what do you think? Is there any chance that I still may get ripe tomatoes this year? Should I instead cut the vines and hang them upside down inside to see what they do?

I actually have some grasses and shrubs on standby, waiting to be planted in these spots, so any thoughts that anyone might have would be much appreciated. I don't mind being patient if there's still a chance that I may see enough ripe tomatoes for one big batch of freezer sauce... but if the situation is hopeless I will instead serve up some fried green tomatoes, yank them out and plan to get next year's crop in the ground in a more timely manner!


A wildlife gardener said...

If they don't ripen in time, you could perhaps make green chutney with them.

Thanks for asking about me...we have been on a three week trip to China. But sad news on our return...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm not a tomato expert, but I've grown up watching my mom grow tomatos, so I'm not totally clueless. I would suggest that, with the warm weather we've been having, that you leave them. If frost threatens, put a blanket or a sheet over the plants. They probably will ripen b4 you get a freeze. BTW if you put the green tomatos in a brown bag on the kitchen counter, they will usually ripen up. I can't say what would happen if you put the bag on the bathroom counter, as I've never seen it done.

Anonymous said...

The temperature is in the 80s now and gonna be in the 70s next week? I live in zone 3 (Alberta) and I'd love it if the temperature were that high for my tomatoes in August, never mind October! :)

I'd say leave them in, and give them the chance to get their colors developing. I was amazed how quickly they turned red after that first blush of orange.

If it looks like they aren't going to get any riper and it's about to get really cold (like 42!), cut them from the vine and lay them out in a cool, dark spot. I learned that they'll actually ripen better in a dark spot than on the windowsill. Then leave them to turn red off the vine and make some sauce!

Silly Goose said...

Or leave them on the vines till frost threatens, then bring them indoors and wrap each one in newspaper. This does work. I know because ...ummmmmm I've planted tomatoes out late too.
Red faced in Ontario

Unknown said...

Thank you all for the input--I came back inside from garden work to see if I had any feedback yet, because I've been tempted to rip them out and start planting the other stuff. It sounds like there may still be hope, though, so I'll leave them for a while longer... and try each of the above methods to see which one works best if they don't turn red on their own outside!

wildlife gardener, glad to hear that all was okay... but sorry for your bad news. He looks like he was quite the cat!

mr. macgregor's daughter, I would normally volunteer to test the new venue and see if it makes a difference... but I don't really have much in the way of bathroom counter space, unfortunately! lol.

kristina, that's a good point. If you all can ripen tomatoes in a chilly zone 3 then I shouldn't despair just yet, huh? (It's normally not this warm here in October, either--we're having one heck of a hot Indian summer!)

Dirty Knees, I bet I have you beat.... have you planted any later than July 5th?!!! *hangs head in shame*

kate said...

One thing that we do here (especially in August if there is a frost predicted) is to pick all the tomatoes and layer them in a cardboard box. If you put brown paper bags between the layers and store in a dark corner, the tomatoes ripen really well. It's amazing actually since they taste as if they were just picked off the vine. Some people just store them in closed brown paper bags too and check them regularly.

Stratoz said...

good luck with tomatoes, mine have been basking in our 80+ degree heat here in PA and they seem to be more productive then in early September. My Eggplants are going wild too and I nearly yanked them months ago when all at once all the eggplants went squishy on me.

I've been letting mine do their final ripening in the kitchen.

Muum said...

I would cover them at night ( or day, actually) if the temps get below 60 degrees, tomatoes are a tropical plant and just keep growing and growing in their native climate. Anything much below 50 or 60 degrees and they slow down in ripening.

Unknown said...

Sunday Evening Update: Sometimes you just have to blog about a plant to give it a kick in the butt, I think! Before I came in tonight I noticed that at least one of the tomatoes turned orange over the course of the day--yippee! :)

Kate, thanks--another great idea for ripening them. I love it!

Wayne, my eggplants have been going gangbusters, too. I kept looking at them and thinking, "Man... if only I had gotten my tomatoes in early enough for them to be benefiting like this... " lol.

muum, thanks for the concrete numbers. I think I'm okay with over 50 for the rest of the week but I will definitely keep my eyes on the forecast!

growingagardenindavis said...

We've had nighttime temps down in the high 40's and I still have San Marzano and Costoluto Genovese ripening as well as the 'snackers'...70's-80's during the day. I'm not covering them or anything...I think you have a really good chance of 'vine-ripened' tomatoes. And I've done the newspaper routine with fine results so you can always fall back on that if necessary.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

I'd leave them in until there's a chance of frost. I let my green tomatoes ripen this way and it's fairly quick too:

put the green tomatoes in a bowl, add one ripe banana, cover it all with a clean tea towel and very soon your tomatoes are nice and red. Good luck Kim!

Entangled said...

If there's enough plants to do so, why not hedge your bets? Remove the ones which are taking up space where you really want to plant something else - make fried green tomatoes with half of those and let the other half ripen off the vine. Then cover the ones you leave in the ground, if the weather ever gets cold again(!), but otherwise wait for those to ripen on the vine.

With all the hot weather recently, we're getting a second big wave of ripe tomatoes here.

Annie in Austin said...

I always left tomatoes and peppers on the vine until frost was predicted when we lived in IL - then went nuts trying to get everything under cover. But we had more planting room there so the tired vegetables weren't interfering with the next phase of garden planting as in your tight spaces.

I may copy your idea of blogging a plant to kick it into action, Kim... let's see, which one needs the next public shaming?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Carol Michel said...

I don't have anything to add to all the good advice you've gotten so far. Except, watch out this week as temperatures are finally supposed to start dropping to normal (if we even know what normal is all about).

And if blogging about a plant shames it into action, as Annie noted, I'm all for it. I've got some toad lilies that need to get on with blooming!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Anonymous said...

Kim: Nice to meet you over at 'Our Little Acre'. I didn't know who was Kim and who was Kylee until you mentioned your age! LOL You both look great and now I can put a face with a post! Always a pleasure!

As for tomatoes, you've gotten great advice. I hope you are making sauce in the next couple of weeks!

Anonymous said...

Different climate conditions over here Kim and they wouldn't ripen on the vine now. But I've brought my green tomatoes indoors and let them ripen up on the window sill

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely leave them till frost threatens (may have already where you are, as it's getting very cool here, too). They will ripen more slowly, but you'll still get tomatoes. Then decide between fried green tomatoes (YUM), the layering and inside ripening technique (which I may use a little later this fall), or tearing them out. But I vote for a combination of layering/ripening and fried green tomatoes.

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I don't have anything to add, except that I'm looking forward to seeing what plants you're going to put in their place :-)

Also, I see that you changed your header---I like it! Great font, and that photo is just perfect.

Catherine said...

Wow...that is a lot of tomatoe's for October..
Enjoy them!

lisa said...

Wow...what a plethera of good advice! I can't add to that, except to say I like Entangled's idea; leave some, pick some, see what happens.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Hasn't this growing season been the longest you have ever experienced? We picked a beautiful red pepper today, I wish I liked them :)

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