How to Save the Last Tomatoes

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Go ahead and let the tears flow... September marks the beginning of the end of tomato season! Deciding whether to pick the green tomatoes left on the vine, or risk getting hit by the frost, is a difficult choice. And while some Fall days can be warmer than others, once the days begin to shorten and remain cool, you will need to take some precautions to prevent losing your final tomato harvest. Here are some tips to get those last stubborn green tomatoes to ripen on the vine.

  1. Remove any diseased leaves and dispose of them.
  2. Give your tomato plants a last dose of food.
  3. Once night time temperatures start dipping into the low 70s F., you probably aren’t going to get any new fruits forming. To speed up ripening of the existing green tomatoes, pinch off any new flowers.
  4. If a light frost is predicted, cover your plants with a row cover.
  5. If you still have green tomatoes well into Fall, you can take the entire plant and hang it in a dry, sheltered location, like the garage. The fruits will continue to ripen and will still have some of the benefits of ripening on the vine. Try and take some roots with the plant, but shake off any soil. Do not want to hang the plants in direct sunlight or total darkness.