Tips To Ripen Tomatoes on the Plant
Towards the end of the season, you probably have some wonderful looking trusses of tomatoes on your plants … the only thing is, the tomatoes are still green! Here are a few tips to ripen tomatoes both on and off the plants.
If the tomatoes on the lower trusses have reached their full size but are taking their time to ripen, there are a number of things we can do to help the process along.
- Reduce nitrogen and increase potassium (potash). Too much nitrogen can delay ripening.
- Remove all side shoots and stop the plants by pinching out the main growing stem – on tall varieties.
- Remove all flowers or very small tomatoes that won’t reach full size before the end of the season.
Tomato Plant Stress & Forcing
Stressing tomato plants can make tomatoes ripen more quickly. This can be done by:
- Reducing the watering frequency
- Cutting some of the roots by sticking a trowel into the soil about 4 or 5 inches from the stem base – a bit extreme maybe, but it can work as a last resort at the end of the season!
- Removing Leaf branches up to the ripening truss
- Trim leaf branches so that energy will be directed towards the fruit
- Removes tomatoes that are just starting to turn colour
Professional growers often use a “forcing solution” to speed-up the ripening process. One such solution is GHE Ripen. It gives the plant a strong signal that it is coming to the end of its life. The plant reacts by speeding the ripening process, in a last effort to reproduce.
How To Encourage Picked Tomatoes to Ripen
This is a lot easier … all you need to do is to put them into a large bowl with a ripe banana or other very ripe tomatoes. The ethylene gas that is produced by ripe fruit encourages the unripe tomatoes to ripen.
Placing them in a paper bag with ripe fruit has the same effect.
There is not a lot we can do about blight once it gets established but taking preventative measures can help – especially if we know that blight is likely to appear in wet conditions as temperatures drop at the end of the season.
However, we still need to look after our plants towards the end of the season by removing old leaves and keeping good air flow around the plant – especially at the root base.
A Flush Through
Give plants growing in containers and grow bags a good flushing with plain water to remove any nutrient build-up in the soil.
Then feed at recommended full strength (plus a little extra) to encourage ripening.