The days may be getting shorter and the warm weather waning, but don’t tell my tomatoes that! The starts I planted in the ground in late May are finally hitting their stride and I’ve had enough tomatoes in the last week to make both bruschetta and pappa al pomodoro and still had more to spare for salads and snacking. Those sweet, cherry tomatoes can be addictive!
As far as my babies (the tomatoes I planted from seed), they have a been a bit slower to the ripening game, likely because I had to keep them in pots due to space limitations. However, back in mid-August, they really started producing fruit and since then I’ve been waiting and watching with anticipation for something to turn red. Finally on Wednesday night (192 days from first planting my seeds) I picked my very first ripe tomato! I do have a few more romas ripening up nicely, but I’m not ready to put my green tomato recipes away yet.
For those of you looking to ripen your tomatoes in the limited fair weather we have left, here are a few tricks I know of.
1) Mineral Magic! Water each plant with a gallon of water mixed with a 1/4 cup epsom salt then wait a day or two and water them again with plain tap water.
2) De-green your plants! Pruning is important to do throughout the season, especially with indeterminate varieties, so that they focus on producing flowers and fruit and stop growing more branches and leaves. Now it is even more important to remove branches with only flowers and/or tomatoes that aren’t full size.
3) Survivor mode. This is a bit extreme and I haven’t tried it myself, but I hear it works. In this method you remove nearly all the leaves and stop watering your plant entirely. It is supposed to shock the plant into survivor/reproduction mode so that it focuses all its energy on ripening it tomatoes and the next generation of seeds they hold inside.