End Of Season Advice for Tomatoes

Here in the Inland Northwest, our weather is extremely variable.

Here are several ways to motivate your tomatoes to ripen their fruit. Remember that the plants main purpose in life, is to procreate and it panics when you do one or more of the following:

Cut back on watering

Shovel pruning – cut the roots about a foot from the plants on two sides. If it’s really late in the season, do all four sides.

Start picking off extra blossoms. One caveat: if it is a cherry tomato leave them alone since they take very little time to go from blossom to ripe fruit.

Pick off tomatoes that you know aren’t going to have enough time to get big enough. These would be the very large, whopper size tomatoes such as Mortgage Lifter, Aussie, Big Rainbow, Rose etc.

Pinch off growing tips as to focus their attention into ripening what they have

Watch the weather like a hawk protect the plants with row cover, bed sheets, tarps, blankets, anything to keep the frost off the fruit. tomatoes-with-tarp

Here we have used blue tarps.

Once frost touches the fruit they will rot rather than ripen.DSCF9210

This what a frost damaged tomato looks like. 

Before a hard, plant killing frost, pick all green ones and bring them inside, most will ripen, the rest you can use for fried green tomatoes or a green tomato relish.

Tomato Problems and Solutions: Sunscald

I’ve been receiving emails from my customers along with a pictures of some of their tomatoes, asking questions about what is it, what to do about it, etc. I thought I’d share them with you, one at a time, since it’s a good bet that you may be dealing with some of the same issues. This hot weather we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest (East of the Cascades), has been making us and our plants a little on the moody side. So here goes…

Customer Question and Picture:

Any idea what this scarring is on the sungold cherty tomatoes. The first couple of weeks of picking was OK but we noticed this several days ago and the scars are spreading to many now. Thanks for your advice.

cherry tomatoes with sunburn


My Answer:

That looks like sunburn to me. It’s kind of papery, white and then it damages the fruit. If you don’t have enough leaf cover to protect the fruit, try getting some shade cloth or row cover and laying it lightly over the plant. 

Sunscald  or Sunburn, occurs particulalry during hot, dry weather when the tomatoes (and peppers) are exposed to direct sunlight. It can happen if your plant has sparse foliage, heirloom paste tomates often have sparse foliage or if you have defoliation from leaf spot or blights or you’ve pinched out too many leaves and auxiliary stems. (That is one of the reasons I don’t pinch out the suckers on my plants). Since this is physiological (physical cause) rather than a disease or a fungus,it won’t jump form tomato to tomato. Use a row cover, such as Remay, or shade cloth to cover.