Although most tomatoes ripen perfectly during the summer months, you will always find a stubborn green tomato or two on the vine when the colder season arrives. From removing diseased leaves so that they don’t infect other plants to keeping a close eye on the upcoming weather forecast, ripening green tomatoes can be achieved easily.
The majority of tomato plants need 15℃ or more to finish ripening, so you’ll need to take a few precautions to ensure you don’t lose your final tomato harvest of the year.
Check out the Epic Tomatoes book to see comprehensive guides on sowing, planting, and dealing with tomato pests.
Prepare Your Tomato Plants for the Cold
Add compost to help provide a last dose of food for your plants so they have enough energy to finish ripening. Redirect what energy your plants have to ripening green tomatoes by pinching off new flowers so that new fruits don’t grow.
A polythene ripening cover helps to protect your tomato plants from pests and harsh weather, and to retain heat and moisture. The perforations allow pollinating insects to easily access flowers and for both moisture and air to circulate. This helps to prevent mildew and overheating.
Your fruits won’t survive a frost; it’s vital to move tomato plants indoors or to ripen them off the vine should bad weather be forecast. To preserve their flavour, you can hang the entire plant upside down in a somewhat dark and cool space. A greenhouse will, however, provide a quicker ripening - and you can easily control the environment to give your plants the best possible chance.
What You Need to Ripen Green Tomatoes
You’ll need the right conditions and a balanced environment to make sure that your tomato plants are adequately ripening. Alongside ensuring that you have all the tomato growing essentials you need, controlling air flow, humidity, and temperature is essential.
When fruit ripens, it naturally produces ethylene gas. Ripening bananas are the best natural source of ethylene that you can easily use, although apples are also highly effective. If your tomatoes are off the vine, you can place between five to a dozen tomatoes in a brown paper bag with a banana.
You can also line a cardboard box with dry newspaper and place green tomatoes in a single layer, simply covering the box every other day.
To ripen green tomatoes, you need to ensure that humidity is at the right level. Too much humidity and your tomatoes can become mouldy, start to rot, or attract fruit flies. Too little humidity and your tomatoes might get dehydrated.
When storing green tomatoes, make sure that the environment is warm, semi-humid, and away from direct sunlight.
The ideal temperature for most tomato plants is between 18℃ and 21℃, which can help them to ripen in as little as two weeks. Don’t confuse warmth for sunlight; too much sunlight or direct sunlight can cause tomatoes’ skin to harden. Make sure that your plants have a healthy balance of shade and light for healthy tomatoes.
Plants need good air circulation to breathe properly and to ripen without the risk of mould settling in. Space and air are essential - these factors help to ensure that damaged or diseased tomatoes don’t affect healthy fruits. Make sure not to pile or pack the fruits too much so that you can enjoy delicious tomatoes.
If you’re just starting up a garden, our team is more than happy to give you a helping hand with any information you require. Simply contact us by giving us a call on 0845 602 3774 - from queries about deliveries, returns, or about our products, we’re here to help.