I was advised to stop watering tomatoes

by John Brunzell
(Vancouver, WA, USA)

Q. I live in the Pacific NW. A local nursery rep told me that it would be best once the tomato is full grown, but still green, to stop watering. Evidently this forces the fruit to ripen. I am not fully comfortable with this method. However, my wife is resolute that this is what the rep said and that this is what we are going to do. We have a automatic soaker system. Does halting watering allow tomatoes to ripen? Please advise.


A. Reduce watering, but don't stop it altogether. Tomatoes are 90+% water - they continue to need water as they ripen. But it's true that reducing the amount of moisture they get will help speed ripening along. Be sure to keep track of rainfall. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

There are several other ways to help green tomatoes ripen on the vine quicker than normal.

  • Water the soil - not the plants.
  • Prune the plant, pinch blossoms, and pick smaller fruit. This will help extra energy go into ripening fruit, rather than sustaining extra plant growth.
  • Cover plants when nights are cool.


Check out more tips on accelerating tomato ripening.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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