How Can I Save My Tomato Plants

I have been growing a couple of tomato plants. Now that it is getting cold outside, and my tomatoes are still blooming. What can I do? I was told to pull them out of the ground or pot and hang them up side down. To save them…Is that what I’m supposed to do?

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    October 17, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Are you asking if you can over-winter your tomato plants, or just if you can extend their season a bit? Over-wintering is not a good idea: the plants aren’t meant to live that long.

    I’m not sure what part of the country you live in, but in the cooler regions it’s just about time to call the tomato season over. There will always be blooms and remaining green tomatoes as the season ends, but as the temperatures start to fall new fruit will stop developing. Pinch off the new blooms to help the existing fruit develop; this allows the tomato plant to put all its energies into the fruits.

    You can cover your tomato plant with a row cover or sheet to protect from a light frost. Just make sure to remove it during the day to keep the plant from getting too warm, and to allow it to receive plenty of sunlight.

    If you are already into the cool season, plants can be lifted from the ground and hung in a dry, sheltered location, like a garage, to allow the fruits to ripen on the vine. Leave some of the roots on the tomato plant but shake the soil loose. Hang the plants away from direct sunlight but not in total darkness.

    Another suggestion to ripen mature green fruits is to pick them when there is just a tinge of color on the blossom end and they are starting to feel a little softer than the younger fruits. You can ripen them on a sunny windowsill. It’s best to sit them stem up to lessen the chance of rot, or wrap each tomato in newspaper and layer in a box. This method can take up to 4 weeks and you will need to check them frequently to make sure there are no signs of rotting. The easiest method is to put them in a paper bag with a ripe apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening process. Check the progress on a daily basis.

    If you don’t have the space or the patience to ripen tomatoes indoors, you can find all sorts of great recipes for all those green tomatoes on the Internet!

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