We all love the taste of home grown tomatoes and we know that the best flavour comes from allowing the fruit to ripen on the vine. But what happens at the end of the season when the weather starts to become cold and even frosty, and your tomato plants are covered with unripe fruit? There are a number of options:
Allow picked fruit to ripen indoors
I harvest any tomato with even a blush of colour and have bowls of these tomatoes in my kitchen. Fruit that is picked green with a tinge of orange will often start to ripen inside within a couple of days, although you must check for rotten fruit often.
2. Try to get the vines to ripen
While I leave the plants in as long as I can, when I get desperate for space I pull the whole plants out of the ground, roots and all and hang them upside down in a protected place, usually in my carport. Much of the fruit will continue to ripen despite the plant been uprooted.
3. Use green fruit in cooking
Green tomatoes make a delicious chutney or pickle, but at the end of the day, how much pickle can you eat? My favourite way of using up green tomatoes is making a green tomato cake, and believe it or not, it tastes delicious!
4. In frost free areas you can also plant late fruiting tomatoes such as ‘Burnley Bounty’.
This variety is tolerant of cooler conditions and will produce excellent large tomatoes in mid-winter. Plant them in mid to late summer in the warmest part of your garden where it will continue to be sunny as winter sets in. An ideal site would be against a north facing fence, protected from cold winds and frosts, where the plant can utilise all available sunshine and reflected heat off the fence. These tomatoes are best picked when they show the first signs of colour and ripened indoors. I have planted some in my wicking beds north of the shed, where I hope I will have my poly house erected before mid-winter. In the meantime while they are small I will cover them with plastic.