Green TomatoesTopical Tomato Tips for September
As we come to the time of the season when tomato plants are being stopped, albeit about six weeks later than most previous seasons, here are a few tips as the fruit begins to ripen.

Remove Flowers and Very Small Fruit
Remove flowers that haven’t yet set and even small fruit that won’t reach full size before the end of the season.

If plants are affected by blight – leaves, stems and fruit turning brown, remove any fruit that is unaffected to ripen indoors, then remove and destroy plants.

Reduce Leaves
De-leaf at least up to the second truss to maximise energy into the growing fruit. De-leaf gradually up to the truss that has ripe fruit.

Cut down on nitrogen as too much in the soil can delay ripening.

Pick tomatoes as they begin to ripen/turn colour.

Excess nutrients in the soil can cause a chemical build-up and a drop in soil pH that can prevent some nutrients from being accessible to plants.

It is common practice with professional growers to use a flushing solution to remove high nutrient levels caused by over-feeding or just a long season of regular feeding.

If your plants are outside, they probably won’t be suffering from nutrient build-up because the rain will have diluted or flushed the soil already.

However, if you are growing under cover, you may find that a flush through with tepid (slightly warm) water has a positive effect on your plants health. Pick any ripe tomatoes before flushing as a sudden deluge of water can cause ripe toms to split. Let soil almost dry-out before watering and feeding again – you can always foliar feed if necessary.

Tomato plants have a mind of their own, if they think they have plenty of food, water and root space they’ll take their time and ripen late. That’s one reason why growing in containers produces an earlier but reduced harvest.

You would probably get more tomatoes over a longer period from plants when roots aren’t confined in containers, but we live in a short season area in the UK and tomato plants need to be pushed along before the weather turns cold and the daylight hours are reduced.

If you have any useful tips to share that are relevant for this time of the growing season, please share them below.

9 Responses

  1. Angela Bryans
    | Reply

    My Grannie used to take off the green tomatoes at the end of the season before the first frosts, wrap them individually in brown paper and put them in a drawer to keep them in darkness. I believe she used to check them occasionally, then she would have tomatoes at Christmas! This was at a time when we could not buy tomatoes in England except in summer, so as you can imagine I am talking about many years ago.

  2. Janis
    | Reply

    Hello Nick and fellow tomato growers, I am intrigued by the fried green tomatoes reference in another post – if there is a recipe, please could I have it?

    I have been successful in storing ripened toms from previous years when they were plentiful (alas not this year) by freezing them whole – just take out the core, freeze them on a tray and bag them like marbles. To use, run under warm water and the skins fall off easily. they are of course only suitable for cooking but work very well.

    My other treat is balsamic tomatoes. Slow cook as many as you can spare in a roasting tray in the oven on about 140C for an hour and a half, having washed them, arranged them in a single layer cut in half, drizzled with good virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some sea salt and oregano or similar if you wish. They are just yummy warm from the oven, store in the fridge for about a week once allowed to cool, or freeze well to make a pasta sauce etc.

    I have lots of fruit left but the time is running out to ripen them this year! regards

  3. Chris Bishop
    | Reply

    I use my food processor with the chipping plate fixed to process my tomatoes then boil these and freeze into portions.My needs are for seven ladels per container.When I need to use the portion I pass it through a sieve and use for sauces,soups and pizza toppings etc.

  4. Harold Develin
    | Reply

    After such a poor season this year, I have decided that I will cover my polytunnel floor with a membrane, weed fabric? and completely paint it white with water based paint, cut holes in it for the ring culture pots, and hope that the white ground will reflect lots of light upwards, I suppose anything is worth a try after this years misery,

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Harold,
      I think that’s a good idea … any amount of extra light has to be a bonus!

  5. Janet Cockerill
    | Reply

    It is early days yet, this time last year I almost despaired of the green marbles dangling before me but a bit of warm weather in September and I had so many luscious tomatoes I had to hunt out chutney recipes to use them up.Weather forecast is good for this week.
    Thanks for all the helpful tips I have read this year.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Janet,
      Yes, hopefully we still have a few weeks of good weather left before the end of the season.
      I’m pleased that you’ve found the tips helpful.

  6. jess allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    Thanks for the flushing tip. I will try that. My plants all look very healthy but the soil in the pots is beginning to look “claggy”, i.e. the soil never actually dries up even on the surface. Maybe it’s build up of food and they just need a bit of a wash through and a wee bit of fresh compost on top. I’ll make sure they are raised up for quick draining.
    Towards the end of the season I have some left over laminate planking covered with tinfoil which I lay down on both sides of the pots to reflect the sunshine upwards and this does help greatly with ripening. Even nice when you go into the greenhouse and it’s “all lit up”! Never mind the plants, it makes me feel brighter! Thanks for all you tips this season. They have been a great help.

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