Protector of the garden trellis

How to make your tomatoes turn red?

While going searching my logs I noticed the query in the topic. My first response, in my sarcastic mind was, "Uh red paint, maybe a red permanent marker?" After some more serious thought I did get some more helpful ideas.

Don’t be greedy: I know it is hard when you want to get as many delicious tomatoes as possible and you let your plants go wild producing as many fruit as possible but unfortunately you hit the end of your growing season with 70% of those tomatoes to never to become ripe before the first frost. You can prevent this by pinching off any suckers that are not part of the main vein of the plant. Sure you may not get as many fruits but your plant can spent more of its energy getting that fruit red instead of growing more green tomatoes to throw in the compost.

Be light on the nitrogen: Do not give your plants too much nitrogen during its growth period. You will get a big beautiful plant, but unfortunately fruit will bear too late in the season to mature into ripe red tomatoes.

Get supermarket quality tomatoes from your garden: Of course tomatoes ripened on the vine will have the better taste but when your season runs out and your tomatoes are still green what can you do?  One option is to take any flawless tomatoes (no bruises, no cracks) place them very gently in a cardboard box padded on bottom with newspaper and place in a cool humid location. You may also add a ripe banana to speed up the process by adding a little extra ethylene.  If you are luck in a couple/few weeks you should have some red tomatoes.

Just eat the green tomatoes: If all else fails there is always the option of breading them with some bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and fry up until golden. There is also the green salsa option which I am planning on trying out this year…ok I may have been a little "greedy" this year.

Compost bin tomato bears fruit

Compost Bin Tomato plant volunteer

For anyone that has been following the success (or maybe lack of success) of my compost bin volunteer tomato plant, it has nearly taken over the compost bin and finally did bear fruit. What is interesting is that it seems to look like an ugly tomato, which I have grown from seed nor purchased from the grocery store or farmer’s market. I guess the plot thickens, could just be caused by the ill effects of the adverse growing conditions.

Ugly Tomato

Brown spots on tomatoes

brown spots on tomato

Looks like our recent weekly rainy weather may have taken my tomatoes as a victim of blight. Living in the Pacific Northwest I should have known better and protected them with some plastic during our frequent waves of rainy weather. Being an optimist can anyone overturn my diagnosis? Any hopes of saving this fruit?

Goose cucumber

Goose cucumber

My 4 year old called this our goose cucumber, I think I see it.

Planting your second (fall) cold season crop

With my tomatoes changing colors and having a consistent harvest of cucumbers it is now time to start thinking about a second season crop of cold season vegetables. If you were less than successful with your spring cold season crop as I was, definitely consider giving a fall crop a try. There are many advantages since pests are less active and temperatures decrease and will lower temperatures and more rain it is a pretty low labor harvest. The cool weather can also help pull the sugar out and give you much sweeter veggies compared to your spring crop

If I have already convinced you to start a fall crop the important thing is timing, though many of the cold season plants can survive a couple light frosts you should start your planting 6-8 weeks before you first fall frost. You can extend your growing season (or take it through the whole winter) by providing some plastic covering for a little added protection. If you want more information of having fresh vegetables all winter long I recommend checking out Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long

Your choices for what to plant are basically the same as what you may have planted early last spring. Some of my favorites are lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, scallions, and radishes.

With a little planning and minimal effort you can continue to harvest inexpensive produce with minimal effort.