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Vegetable Gardening: evergreen tomatoes

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LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 23, 2012
2:22 PM

Post #9340679

I am despairing of my tomatoes ever getting red. Seriously, they seem to have been green for SO long. We had a few cherry tomatoes but most of them, most of the cherries even, are stubbornly green. A couple larger tomatoes did turn yellow and fell off (ants in them, they were on lower branches). Other than that, though, the plants look very healthy and very loaded with tomatoes.

I'm in San Antonio, weather's been 70s-90, never down lower than 42 or so on even the coldest evening (and we only had a couple of those). Clues? Ideas?
Thanks!

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

November 23, 2012
2:38 PM

Post #9340686

I'm beginning to believe most home gardeners over fertilize their tomatoes. Especially nitrogen. To much fertilizer & they just keep growing foliage instead of making fruit.
We put about 100 lbs of 19-19-19 per acre once a year. That's less than 2Ĺ lbs per 1000 Sq ft. We always have tons of produce & all good quality, too.
Our tomatoes were planted near June 1. We were selling tomatoes by late July.
Tomatoes are grown in a field setting.
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 23, 2012
3:05 PM

Post #9340714

Thanks for your quick reply. I don't *think* I'm guilty of that, but perhaps I am. To be clear, we do have loads of tomatoes, they are just taking forever to redden. I do think they are possibly getting a little lighter green in color, which I hope means they are headed to reddening.

But maybe, if I do have too much fertilizer in there, maybe the energy is going into producing more and more fruit, rather than reddening what is there (?).

Thumbnail by LiseP   Thumbnail by LiseP   Thumbnail by LiseP   Thumbnail by LiseP   
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Farmerdill
Augusta, GA
(Zone 8a)


November 23, 2012
3:31 PM

Post #9340729

Don't know when you planted them., But fall tomatoes here rarely ripen once the equinox arrives. I have a beautiful crop of green tomatoes from a reset from spring plants. Frost expected next Monday, so its fried green tomato time.

Solace

Solace
Monte Vista, CO
(Zone 4a)

November 23, 2012
6:27 PM

Post #9340836

LiseP, what kind of tomatoes are they? Some take longer than others. I have yellow pear tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse, but the larger red ones are barely beginning to turn. Knowing how homegrown tomatoes taste make it a long wait, doesn't it? LOL
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 24, 2012
12:46 AM

Post #9341040

Farmerdill, I'm not sure when I planted them, but I *think* it was around 20 August (transplants). I looked back through my posts and I know they were in place and "growing like crazy" on September 6. Interesting about the equinox. I was only calculating to first frost and figuring I had time, but wasn't thinking about the fact that their growing rate may be slowing with the change in sun. Live and learn, maybe!

Solace, I have a variety - a couple of cherry varieties, Early Girl, Celebrity, Beefsteak -- kind of typical types that you can find around here. So I think they would vary from 70-100 days. Luckily, most are in boxes with hoops, so I can cover them as temps start to drop and elongate the season a bit. I'm not so encouraged that the flavor is going to be good even if they do make it to the finish line -- although the cherries that did ripen (3 today) were delicious. We'll see! Thanks for the hand-holding. Yes, knowing how homegrown tomatoes taste is making it a delicious torture! LOL
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 24, 2012
3:28 AM

Post #9341061

Lise, I can relate to your situation since we have far more green than ripe tomatoes. August is the earliest month for garden ripened tomatoes here and late August is also the time when fall frosts begin. I am always experimenting with ideas to improve or increase production of ripe tomatoes as well as trying to achieve production at an earlier date. I have three new experiments to try next spring and Country Gardens just gave me another to ponder. However, something we discovered last year was green tomatoes make a fantastic relish, better than cucumbers in our opinion. Also, I am now constructing a place in my shed for fall hanging of sprawled tomato plants which still have lots of green or semi-ripened tomatoes still on them.

I took some of the larger unripened tomatoes from last season and boxed them up similar to the way we store onions, winter squash, and potatoes in our garage which maintains an ambient temperature between 40 and 50 F. I use COSTCO flats and line them with meat wrapping paper for storage. The tomatoes are spaced so they don't touch each other and I can stack these flats three deep on my shelves. I have several flats left which now have fully ripened tomatoes which were barely pink when stored in late August and early September. Although this method of storage only lasted about two months I'm pleased with the results. I do admit that a good number of these stored tomatoes became soft or started to rot, and immediately became worm food. Regardless of how many tomatoes or other vegetables end up inedible I vermicompost all the discards, so nothing actually goes to waste.

grits74571
Talihina, OK

November 24, 2012
4:34 AM

Post #9341076

LiseP here is an old trick from back in the day when I had to grow short time tomatos since you can cover the maters do so and under the covers place some old apples,which you can likely bummed some from a produce place ..Now here is the theory the apples give off ethelene gas as they decompose hence speeding up the ripening process ..Read about this many years ago(40) in Organic Gardening but if you are like me then most anything is worth a shot...Good Luck

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 24, 2012
6:32 AM

Post #9341132

LiseP
your tomatoes look so beautiful and I hope they will turn red.
I am taking about my experience on growing fall tomatoes in zone 8.
I did try for two years ... and I gave up. Like your the tomatoes never seem to turn red or taste as good as the spring ones.
The local garden "guru" thought me that the latest date I can transplant the fall tomatoes in the ground is June 26th.
Or start them from seeds at the beginning of May and transplant them out at the end of June.
... so maybe you were a little late .. I dunno ...

I gave up. In my limited space I rather grow greens in the fall, without too much to worry.
After all, I had 3 full months of tomatoes harvest in the spring ... and now I cannot wait to start the tomato again for next season.

Good luck to you.
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 24, 2012
11:50 AM

Post #9341341

Oh, you guys are great! I am feeling a lot better, just getting a little commiseration, lol, plus learning a few ideas on how to handle things this season and how to hopefully do better next season.

Grits74571, I am definitely going to cover the tomatoes that are in the RB with the hoops, and try the apples method. I have a dozen or so older apples to sacrifice for the task. Not sure that would be enough, but I'll place them all on one side of the hoop bed just to see if that one side might redden a little faster and sort of prove the theory. Can't hurt. And I'll ask at the local grocery next time I'm in there.

mraider3, the branches that are too tall or too sprawled to be contained within the hoops -- and tomatoes growing in areas where I don't have hoops -- will get snipped and tomatoes laid out in flats. I did that once before, using pizza boxes for the cherry tomatoes and that worked pretty well. I'll likely sprawl a few branches in my shed as well.

I'm also glad to know about the relish. I have never canned, but this may be the year to try -- we enjoy relish. I do have a recipe (somewhere!) for tomato cake, using ground up green tomatoes.

drthor, your gardens are usually so beautiful that if you gave up on fall tomatoes, I would tend to think I should too. Our summers are so hot here that it's tough getting young tomato transplants to thrive instead of frying. I think I was pulling baked tomatoes OUT of the ground about that time. So it's definitely a tricky business. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes!



LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 24, 2012
11:54 AM

Post #9341343

mraider, forgot to ask -- do the tomatoes need to be "barely pink" when you first store them? Mine are not even at that stage yet, except for a precious few. Most are light green, several are still quite deep green. I guess I'll hang on until the last possible minute to pick those -- but get the flats ready now.
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 25, 2012
11:12 PM

Post #9342649

Helps Lise, I don't really try to save the all green ones unless I plan to make relish or make fried green tomatoes. I have had some green tomatoes try to ripen in a bucket in the kitchen where the temperature is around 62F, but they got soft and mushy. The ripening process in the garage at 40 to 50 F is much slower than in the kitchen which is preferable. When we harvest for canning we collect as many ripe or near ripe tomatoes as possible and within a weekís time if we haven't processed them some will begin to get soft and rot, but they are generally all pretty well ripened in just a few days. I try to sort them according to the degree of ripeness and work on the ripest ones first. It takes us about a week to can tomatoes working 10 or more hours per day.

Each year we try something new and this year we blended half tomato, and equal amounts of peppers and onions for the second half. The separated juice goes into half gallon jars and the pulp into quart jars. I put jalapeno peppers in my "spicy' sauce and bell type, banana peppers in couple of batches. When I cook up either beans for chili or noodles for goulash I use the half gallon juice jars instead of water. Pulp is heated up separately with the spices I like for either dish then all is mixed with deer meat. Adding some diced tomatoes to the mix later in the cooking process. I figure I have about two weeks left of diced tomatoes at best and those are the ones which were just beginning to turn when I picked around September 12th. Although I had been covering the rows at night with a 14ml tarp the hard freezes finally hit and everything not picked became worm food.
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

November 26, 2012
9:01 AM

Post #9342877

Morgan, All that food preservation reminds me of the walk in root cellar on the Idaho place. I would store carrots in sawdust and apples wrapped individually in newspaper, that would keep until nearly March, getting sweeter and better all the time. Very little spoilage. Too busy to raise much other garden but i pitted a million cherries and Aprictots for the wife to preserve.

There were what looked like builtin potato bins in the cellar, that would have held produce enough for all winter.

Very hard work, but also very satisfying to have the food laid by.

Ernie

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

November 26, 2012
9:37 AM

Post #9342902

On the too much nitrogen issue- it is more apt to grow green leaves and not set fruit if you have too much nitrogen. Checking the days to maturity- DTM- is more apt to help you on ripening times, but besides relish- green tomatoes make an awesome mincemeat dish...
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 27, 2012
1:16 AM

Post #9343551

Ernie, I recall as a kid my grandparentís concrete coal cellar in Flint which had been converted to storing jars of food. I couldn't even tell you what some of the weird looking stuff was they stored. We match them for space in our garage and closet under the stairs. Kid's think were nuts but some day they will figure it out.

I still have carrots in the garden and will dig some later this morning for a snack. Ground will eventually freeze hard, but right now the carrots are fantastic eating. We did place some in a crock last season with some garden soil. Worked out fine until PK decided to use it as her sandbox.
We dice and freeze just enough carrots for salads in zip lock bags. Flavor is just as good as freshly diced carrots. We also freeze one inch whole sections for soup, stews and roasts. Cakes made from frozen carrots and squash as well. We donít can any carrots because no one likes the taste of canned carrots here.

Kitt your right on the DTM. I select only tomato seeds which will ripen in our short season. Even wrapped caging can only extend the season by one month on the early side and possibly two months on the late side. I havenít side dressed tomato plants for the very reason you mentioned, but I plan on making compost tea for at least a couple of early watering next season. .
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

November 27, 2012
8:47 AM

Post #9343736

Morgan,

Next to tomatoes, i think carrots are my favorites, but they have not done well for me in this soil, so far. I just planted some in my covered hotbox for some winter vegetablees and they are coming up nicely. The soil in the box has been amended more, so maybe the carrots will do better.
The Cellar in Idaho had been dug into the side of the hill close to the house, and the temperature was very steady, summer or winter. I do not think we ever had it more than 25% full. The pressure water tank was inside it, too, so that worked well in the cold weather.

Along with the DTM, the degree days or hours are also very important in plant growth, so as we have talked about, all the things you do to warm up your micro climate help the plants a lot.

I have one of those temperature operated hatch openers on the hot box, fascinating the way it works, and i have it set to where it keeps the box about 20 or 25 degrees warmer than ambient in the day time,before it opens, but the inside temp drops almost to ambient at night, so will learn this winter if the veggies can stand the light frosts we may have here.

Ernie
grits74571
Talihina, OK

November 27, 2012
12:52 PM

Post #9343909

Lise had stated she has some Early Girls so that should make the DTM unimportant that being the shortest season Tomato I have grown
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

November 27, 2012
8:56 PM

Post #9344354

My mother always cut back on the water. That made the tomatoes ripen faster.
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 27, 2012
11:20 PM

Post #9344415

Cutting back on water is another form of stressing the tomato plants Sharon, but I don't know what the best way is to do that. My neighbor tried that a few times and his didn't fare well. He was told to let the leaves wilt before watering again and his plants didn't develop many tomatoes. I would conclude from his experience that withholding water initially is not a very good idea. Possibly backing off of the water once the tomatoes begin to ripen is a better way.
So how are things in your neck of the woods Sharon...haven't heard from you in a while.

morgan
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

November 28, 2012
8:28 PM

Post #9345105

Morgan, I will send you a d-mail...
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 4, 2012
4:57 PM

Post #9349938

Lise, have they ripened yet? I've been watching this thread because I had the same issue. But mine are finally getting ripe. I picked a doz today. These are from plants that I planted last spring and this is their "second" crop. They started setting again when the temps dropped.

I must say that have never had tomato plants this late in the year. Especially considering that I haven't protected them from the cool temps at all.

Strange to think I'll be starting more soon.
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

December 4, 2012
7:53 PM

Post #9350096

My late tomatoes did not seem to have the flavor that my early and summer tomatoes had. Was that just because i had eaten so many i was becoming jaded, or does the flavor diminish later in the season? It was so marked here, i tore my vines out while a few were still ripening, just because of the change in taste.

Ernie
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 5, 2012
6:57 PM

Post #9350896

No, I don't think they taste as good but they are better then store bought. This year I'm going to see if any of these plants overwinter and see if the flavor returns to the fruit that set in the Spring. I'll be surprised if the cold doesn't eventually take them out. We will see.
CajuninKy
Biggs, KY
(Zone 6a)

December 6, 2012
3:53 PM

Post #9351626

When freeze threatens my late tomatoes, I pull the whole plant, shake off all the dirt and hang upside down where they won't freeze. the tomatoes ripen well that way.
grits74571
Talihina, OK

December 6, 2012
6:56 PM

Post #9351810

Ever single gardener i have discussed the lack of taste in the fall tomatos all agree with Ernie which leads me to think it has a lot to do with the receding sunlight have never had a decent one out o my fall maters

Solace

Solace
Monte Vista, CO
(Zone 4a)

December 6, 2012
8:19 PM

Post #9351878

I have to say the tomatoes I just harvested this week in the greenhouse that doesn't have lights were delicious. There are heavy metals in the air these days from the "planet dimming" initiative, so I wonder if outside tomatoes would taste different as a result. Maybe they're putting more of the stuff in the air in the fall? I don't know. All I know is the ones in the gh couldn't taste any better. That's a real mystery, the difference in summer and fall flavor.

Solace

Solace
Monte Vista, CO
(Zone 4a)

December 6, 2012
8:39 PM

Post #9351888

And, by the way, I was shocked when I found out about that program. I became more than shocked the more I researched this. Apparently the cirrus clouds the persistent contrails (not the normal short contrails that disappear in a few seconds when you see a jet fly over) cause the planet to warm. I'm thinking that would be at cross purposes of what scientists (and politicians, I guess) would want. Doesn't make any sense, but I found when I watched Rosalind Peterson's video about her tests in California, it would definitely adversely affect plants and water. Hawaii is really fighting this, much moreso than other places. Here's more information about it:

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/how-geoengineering-and-the-aerosol-spraying-of-our-skies-affects-our-health/

And Rosalind's video:
Radio Liberty October 23, 2011 Seminar - Aptos, CA
"Geoengineering: Destroying the Atmosphere" Presentation by Rosalind Peterson
with a Special Presentation by Allan Buckmann
http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/content/geoengineering-current-actions
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

December 6, 2012
9:47 PM

Post #9351911

Grits,
Maybe your similar experience regarding loss of flavor will save me a lot of bother next year. About the time my tomatoes lost their flavor, they also lost there attractiveness, as the vines aged, so next year, instead of tasting a lot of tomatoes trying to find a good one,and being displeased with the way they looked, i wil just pull the vines and move on to something else.

Ernie

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

December 7, 2012
5:19 AM

Post #9352012

We have a place not far from here that raises tomatoes year around.
Hydroponic as well.
I don't know about comparing taste from summer to fall, but these taste really good in March or April when you are longing for a tomato.
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

December 13, 2012
7:00 AM

Post #9357143

Hi all, sorry to drop out there. (My mom died - she was 90 and has been fading thru Alzheimer's for years, but still, a shock). Anyway, I left all the tomato plants out there until 3 days ago, when we had a serious frost warning. By then, I think we had picked a couple dozen nicely ripened and delicious cherry tomatoes (and a couple that didn't taste so good too), and a half dozen "okay" larger tomatoes that reminded me very much of plain ordinary grocery store tomatoes -- certainly edible but not "dance around the kitchen" good.

I never did get those over-ripe apples out to the garden to help hasten ripening. I set the green tomatoes in the laundry room to maybe/maybe not ripen. I plan to start processing them in one way or another soon -- fried green tomatoes, frozen pureed green tomatoes for future recipes, etc. A very few are orange enough that I will leave them to continue to ripen. I have one solidly green tomato that I picked earlier and it has been sitting indoors for 3 weeks and hasn't changed color at all.

All in all, I think I learned that having a prolonged and even very warm late fall (temps in the 80s) is not enough to grow decent tomatoes, you do need to keep angle/intensity/length of daylight sun hours in mind. It almost puts me to mind of "short day onions" and "long day onions" -- and as a rule of thumb, in future, I think I'm going to consider "sweet 100s" cherry tomatoes to be short days, and all the other tomatoes to be long days and leave them for spring/summer.
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

December 13, 2012
9:23 AM

Post #9357277

Lise, Your comments on late tomatoes jibe well with what i saw here, and I am going to eat my fill of them during summer and pull the vines much earlier. The last month or six weeks of effort was just not worth it.

Ernie
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

December 25, 2012
7:16 AM

Post #9366649

Okay, lol, now that I have waited and whined and despaired -- NOW, we have beautiful red (and surprisingly tasty) tomatoes for Christmas! I really thought that leaving them out in the garden on the vine was the thing to do to get them to ripen (as long as temps were above freezing) but it was only after we picked them green and brought them in that they started reddening up. (Was it a matter of time only, or does it actually hasten the process to pick them, I wonder? Or was it keeping the temps more even, indoors? So many variables!)

Anyway,we've been eating tomato sandwiches all week, and I made my inaugural foray into the world of canning, with "apple-green tomato relish" from a recipe I got off the web, and it is delicious. And now I am no longer afraid of canning. So it turned out okay. Thanks for the hand-holding, guys. I'm not sure I would do it again, at least not as late as I did it -- because now I'm probably too late for other things I would have grown (cool season stuff). But I will just enjoy the tomatoes and adjust for next year.

Thanks again,
Lise

Thumbnail by LiseP   Thumbnail by LiseP         
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dillansnana
Hemet, CA
(Zone 9b)

December 27, 2012
3:31 PM

Post #9368602

Lovely jars of home canned food on the counter. A wonderful feeling!
Just sayen!
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

December 30, 2012
8:20 AM

Post #9370473

Thanks! Yes it is! And these are tomatoes that finally straightened up and turned red after I showed 'em what would happen to them if they didn't. LOL.

Thumbnail by LiseP
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

December 30, 2012
9:16 AM

Post #9370514

I LOVE that photo!
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

December 30, 2012
7:31 PM

Post #9370945

LiseP, those are beautiful. So are you. I see you have my hair. Fine hair is a pain but I guess it is better than no hair.

Happy New Year to all of you.
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

December 30, 2012
10:26 PM

Post #9371032

Sharon, I do not know about the fine hair v. no hair. I have about half of each, but it does not seem to make much difference to most of us guys. But a while back we were talking about earth worms, and i have not had very many of those. But all the water and work i have done is finally making a difference. I lifted up some 15 gal containers and i finally have plenty of the natural worms under those pots. First tme i have seen more than one at a time, so i will transplant some of those. I am pleased about that because i was worried this ground is too sandy or gravelly for earthworms.

Happy New Year,
Ernie

Solace

Solace
Monte Vista, CO
(Zone 4a)

December 30, 2012
11:06 PM

Post #9371038

Ernie, last year I grew garlic in some tires, kind of like raised beds, and when I harvested the garlic and dumped the tires out, there were probably hundreds of worms inside the tires (and there was very little soil inside the rims of the tires, they must have liked the rubber or darkness, and the dirt was just in the 'hole' part of the tile. I was very surprised, and promptly transferred all of them to the rest of the garden area. That area became the greenhouse and every time I moved a pot, there were worms under it. Once I saw one that was so big I thought it was a little snake.

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 31, 2012
6:56 AM

Post #9371204

LiseP
congrats on your beautiful tomatoes. YOU DID IT !
I am starting my tomatoes seeds today after 1pm ... weeee
LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

December 31, 2012
7:30 AM

Post #9371224

JoParrott - Thanks!
WormsLovSharon Thanks, and on the fine hair -- yes, it's a pain. But it is what it is. I should wear a sunhat more in the garden, too.
ERNIECOPP and Solace -- I'd love to have more worms in my garden. Each year I see a few more but nothing like hundreds. More like one at a time.

Thanks for the heads-up on to tomato seed planting, drthor. It is funny that I am currently swimming in tomatoes (at long last) but I realize that I need to start new seeds soon, thanks to reminders from you and others.
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

December 31, 2012
4:52 PM

Post #9371749

If I dig in an area and find no worms, I know my soil is in trouble. I just dig small holes and put in anything I can fine that the worms will eat. They just come out of no where.

Solace, I have several worms in my new compost pile that look like a small snake. What I like to see is the real tiny ones. Baby worms make me smile. I get mad at myself when I let produce go bad but then I just feed it to my worms so all is not lost.

LisaP, my eyebrows are so fine and invisible that I am overcome with eyebrow envy. And my upper eye lashes grown downward. I was so glad to read an article the other day that this is just part of growing old.

Happy New Year to all. Sharon

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