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When should I pick the tomatoes in my container?

by J. Krell
(Dayton, OH metro area)

Q. I'm a first-time container grower. It's late September in southwest OH, and daytime temperatures are in the low 70's. I've got a few of questions.

  1. Is the tomato still growing?
  2. What should I do with the plant?
  3. What should I do with the containers over winter?

A. Great questions!

  1. Is my plant still growing? A quick weather check shows that your area's overnight temperatures are hovering around 50 degrees F. Tomato plants can survive cold overnight temperatures, as long as the chill is not accompanied by frost. If night times remain moderate, you can let tomatoes ripen normally. If frost is in the forecast, pick your tomatoes. Learn tips for accelerating tomato ripening on the vine before your first frost.

  2. What to do with the plant? As far as the plant goes, if a cold snap is in the forecast, you can protect it with plant covers, tunnel row covers, or other frost protection. You can also take cuttings from the plant or even bring the plant indoors during the winter to allow it to continue to produce.

  3. What to do with the container? If you decide not to bring the plant and container indoors over the winter, then store the pot in a protected spot. Use it again next spring to start a new tomato plant!

    Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
    Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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