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[Tomato Dirt] Be Picky About Picking Green Tomatoes at Season End
September 04, 2013

Tomato Dirt Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 16

Dear Tomato Dirt reader,

Welcome back to Tomato Dirt! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with tips about growing tomatoes and using them.

Practical Canning

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Feature: Be Picky About Picking Green Tomatoes at Season End

Photo: Tomato Dirt

Regardless of when your growing season comes to a close, gardeners the world over face this burning question: when should I pick my green tomatoes?

Be picky about how you answer this question.

The natural temptation at the end of the season is to pull your plants. But think before you start yanking. If you have a considerable number of green tomatoes still on the vine and the forecast does not include a heavy frost, resist the temptation. Instead, take steps to move along the ripening process for those fruits.

On the other hand, there are certain conditions in which you should definitely harvest green tomatoes on the vine.

When to harvest green tomatoes

  • Weather. A heavy frost is in the forecast. Once tomatoes are exposed to frost, their taste withers and texture is mushy … and you will not want to eat them anyway.
  • Disease. The plant is dying.
  • Variety. The plant is determinate – and done producing.
  • Convenience. There are just a few tomatoes left on the vine and you’re ready to begin fall garden clean up.
By making a good decision about “to pick or not to pick” at the end of the season, you can enjoy fresh tomato taste for weeks … whether or not there’s a heavy frost. Check out these additional tips for ripening tomatoes on the vine. And be sure to check out our Harvesting Tomatoes board on Pinterest.


Special Tomato Tip: One Way to Extend Your Tomato Harvest

Photo: Manjith Kainickara

Towards the end of the season, you can help your tomato plant direct its energy to already-set tomatoes and finish strong. Keep your eye on the calendar. Know the date of your first expected frost. (If you’re not sure, contact your local extension office.) About a month before that date, prune your plants. Cut off the top of the plant, remove all new blossoms, and clip shoots. Leave on mature foliage because these make food for the plant.

This last pruning will push along your plant and encourage its fruit to ripen before frost. Get more details about how to extend your tomato harvest.


More about When to Pick Tomatoes ...

When Are My Tomatoes Ready to Pick? How to Extend Harvest of Homegrown Tomatoes Ripening Green Tomatoes to Extend Your Harvest Protecting Tomatoes from Frost and Freezing

That’s it for now. More next time!

Until then, happy gardening!

Kathy with Tomato Dirt
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