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Can I still eat or can tomatoes with end rot?

by Sharon
(Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada)

Q. I have had a real problem this year with my tomatoes. This has included everything from early blight to horn worms to blossom end rot. To top it off, we planted at least 3 weeks behind schedule this year. Now, I have tons of tomatoes, but they are all green or have had these problems mentioned above. Also there are still tomato worms in my garden. Should I bring them all in now green and hope for the best? Can I cut off the bad spots on those with BER and eat or can these tomatoes -- or are they harmful to eat?

A. In spite of a rough tomato year, you have lots of tomatoes to show for it. Here are some tips that should put your mind at ease:

  • Tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine until a freeze. Keep an eye on your weather forecast. If you get a local warning for an overnight freeze, pick your green tomatoes and bring them in.
  • While you're watching for an overnight freeze, you can accelerate ripening on the vine. Reduce watering, pick off extra blossoms, harvest smaller fruit, and shift the roots a bit to encourage tomatoes to ripen. Read a complete set of tips for ripening tomatoes on the vine.
  • Once you pick green fruit, there are several ways you can help along the ripening process: place them in a paper bag, wrap them in newspaper, set them in the garage or basement on a garden rackicon, or even set them on the window sill. By ripening green tomatoes indoors you can extend your harvest!
  • You can eat or can tomatoes that have been affected by blossom end rot or other imperfections. Just cut out the damaged parts of the fruit. One caution: if pests or larvae are inside the fruit when you cut it, then discard that tomato.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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