This post may be too late for those of you who have already harvested all your green tomatoes. I am guessing you either fried them or made them into some kind of salsa. That’s what I had to do last year with my abundant crop of green tomatoes. Well, this year is VERY different. I still have an abundant harvest of green tomatoes but this time they are ALL (with the exception of the ones I chose to use green) ripening. Yahoo! I am so happy. No longer do I have to worry whether or not I am going to have enough time for my tomatoes to ripen with our short growing seasons.
It’s November and I am still able to eat fresh ripe red tomatoes from my garden. How do I do this, you ask? I am going to share with you the method I have been using to ripen my tomatoes. I can’t guarantee it will work for you but I am hopeful that it will. Before I begin I am going to bring you up to date on how I grew my tomatoes this year-successes and failures all included.
Tomato Gardening Using the Mittleider Method
I wish I could say that we followed all the suggestions that were included in Dr. Mittleider’s book, The Mittleider Gardening Course, but we didn’t. My husband built very nice T-frames to string the wire cable across and hang the hay twine for the tomato vines to grow up. But there were a few problems that came up…
- I didn’t get my tomatoes attached to the twine in time so many of my plants were not growing straight.
- Though I pruned the vines early on, I wasn’t consistent so there were many areas I missed.
- I was supposed to feed my plants the mineral fertilizer for 7 consecutive weeks but I lost track so I think I only did it for 4-5 weeks.
- As the plants grew the vines got too heavy for the twine. And since I didn’t prune them properly there were way too many branches on the ground. Our T-frame cables couldn’t hold the weight of the vines. Next year we are going to need to add a center wood frame to support the middle section of the row. We ended up cutting the twine and all of the plants are finishing up on the ground.
- The 25 foot long, 18 wide soil beds really did well for us. Since we didn’t get the automatic water system in this year I ended up watering every day with a hose by hand. Because the plants were essentially growing in a shallow trench, I would have to fill the whole row with water before it reached the end of the row. This deep watering method kept the rows very moist, rarely leaving the soil dry before the next watering.
- Though I didn’t fertilize my plants as recommended by the Mittleider method, I do think the fact that I DID feed them has a lot to do with the size of tomatoes I ended up with this year. I have never before had tomatoes grow as large as and even larger than my hand. This year I had several that did just that. The average size tomatoes were a good size. This also could having something to do with the little bit of pruning I did and the varieties I chose as well.
- This year we planted 6 varieties of tomatoes. Of those 6 varieties 3 where our favorites- Black Krim, Amish Paste and the Abe Lincoln. We grew a Beefsteak variety that was very good also. The Black Krim was the best tasting slicing tomato. They are thick, meaty and have a very mild tomato flavor. The Amish Paste is a really good sauce and dried tomato. I was very pleased with these three varieties and plan to plant them next year.
- We covered our T-frames in 6 mil plastic once the weather started getting cold. I kept the tomatoes covered at night and also during cold days. The plastic worked really well except for the fact that we get high winds. The last high wind ripped the plastic from the T-frames. Next year we will have to improve our plastic covering.
How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors.
Last year I tried a few methods of ripening but nothing seemed to work. I tried hanging the entire tomato, with tomatoes, upside down in the shed. That didn’t work. I tried rapping them in newspaper and storing the small ones in egg cartons and then storing them in the garage. The method I used the year to ripen tomatoes was a combination of my mother-in-laws suggestions and my own ideas. My mother-in-law suggested the wrapping in newspaper and storing in garage method. I had few successful ripening but most of them rotted. This method could have worked had I wrapped each tomato separately. Since my last year’s harvest produced very small tomatoes I felt it was too tedious a process and just layered them in a box with newspaper covering each layer.
This year I decided to try the newspaper wrapping again, only this time I would wrap each tomato separately. I also decided the warmth of the house was a better place to try to store them than in the cold garage. And it worked! Each green tomato I wrapped in newspaper turned pink/orange within a few days. So then began the process of harvesting tomatoes. This is the routine I had for harvesting tomatoes this year.
- Each day I search for any red (or ripe) tomatoes and pick them. These tomatoes I use to make sauces and salsas.
- Each day I also pick all tomatoes that were pink/orange (or turning ). These tomatoes are then stored on my kitchen table and/or counter to ripen. I placed each tomato, side by side but not touching on a dish cloth. The not touch part is really important.
- Each day I also pick light green tomatoes. I don’t pick all of them but I do pick enough light green to fill a basket. By picking the red, pink and light green tomatoes, I figured it was giving the plants more energy to ripen the rest of the green tomatoes. I do also wrap the dark green tomatoes but if I can I wait until they are a light green.
- I removed the remaining green vine from all of the tomatoes, wash, dry and then wrap each green tomato in small pieces of newspaper. Black printed newspaper type catalogs (like Rainbow Resource) worked really well. Then I layer these wrapped tomatoes in a basket or box. Only one or two layers high. I don’t think weighing them down too much is good for them and might end up with bruised tomatoes.
- I check each box of tomatoes every couple of days and take out all of the tomatoes that have turned pink/orange and then place them on the kitchen table with the others to finish ripening. The tomatoes will fully ripen in the newspaper but I don’t like when they do because they ripen to fast and I end up loosing some to rotting. It takes about 3 days for a green tomato to turn orange and about 4-7 more day for the tomato to fully ripen.
That’s it! The only down fall to this is that we have a table full of tomatoes and we can’t use my dinning table. I think next year I will have my husband build a shelf to store our ripening tomatoes. I hope this post was useful to you and you are as successful as I am at ripening green tomatoes.