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October 28, 2017 2:51 am

Tomato Tips

Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

Tomatoes tend to need a long growing season, and the Prince George area tends to have a short growing season, so growing tomatoes to full maturity can be a challenge.

Currently tomato vines are full of ripening tomatoes with a killing frost just around the corner. There are ways to lengthen the outdoor growing season such as using a frost protection blanket like ‘Remay’. Remay can be placed over tomato plants at night when temperatures dip and protect the plants from a few degrees of cold temperatures and possible frost. Remay allows the sun and moisture to filter through so it can be left on the plants during the day, and quicken the ripening process as tomatoes need warm temperatures to ripen.

If you don’t want to have to cover the plants, another option would be to pull the tomatoes out of the garden. Remove any excess soil from the roots and hang the plants upside down in a garage or basement out of direct sunlight but in complete darkness and where there is good air circulation. Pick the tomatoes of the plant as they ripen. Container grown tomatoes can be moved indoors (container and all) where the temperature is above freezing, where tomatoes will continue to ripen.

There are ways of quickening the ripening process while the fruit is still on the vine, by promoting the plants energy into the fruit. Remove all the flowers and very small green fruit, because it is too late in the season for these to mature into fruit. Then remove all the new growth shoots as these are no longer needed, and then remove the yellow leaves and bottom branches. Most of the leaves should be left on the plant as they are needed for photosynthesizing and give the sweet taste to the tomato fruit as well as provide energy to the plant. Watering slightly less often and less will signal to the plant to put its energy into the fruit as well as the sugars. Don’t leave ripened fruit on the vine, as you want the plants energy to go into the ripening the unripened fruit.

Another option would be to pick all the fruit off the plant and have it ripen off the vine, indoors. The fruit should be picked carefully so that it does not bruise and the stem should be left on fruit. Sort the fruit by maturity and throw out any tomatoes that are small and green as these will never ripen properly. Individually wrap each tomato in newspaper and place it in a cardboard box, or space tomatoes, stem side up, between layers of newspapers. Store the unripened tomatoes in a space where the temperatures are 15-22 Celsius, cooler temperatures will destroy the ripening enzymes. The humidity in the space should not be low enough to take moisture out of the tomato resulting in shrivelled tomatoes or too high that it will cause the tomatoes to go mouldy.

If you need a couple of ripe tomatoes quickly, try placing them in a closed paper bag that has an apple in the bag. The ethylene gas produced by the apple will quicken the ripening process of the tomato. Tomatoes that are almost ripe can also be placed on a warm window ledge for a couple of days for added flavour.

Do not put ripe tomatoes in the fridge, as cool temperatures will cause the tomato to loose some of its flavour.
One other option would be do use the green tomatoes in your recipes. They are a rare treat as they are not often found in the produce section of the grocery store!


Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road


Great tips! Wish you would give some tips about watering tomato plants! This year has been bad for leaves turning yellow way before their time. Did it have anything to do with watering?

Great tips! I have a ton of little tomatoes growing and I was lucky that frost didn’t kill them off.. Maybe the green ones are dead but the orange ones are good. I’m going to cover them up at night. Have about 30 vines growing! Way too much haha.

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