Fall Tomatoes – What To Do With End Of Season Tomato Plants

Fall Tomatoes – What To Do With End Of Season Tomato Plants

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The glorious days of summer must come to an end and fall will start to encroach. Autumn tomato plants usually have some final crop clinging to them in various stages of ripeness. Temperature dictates when the tomatoes will ripen and cooler temperatures will slow the process. The longer you can leave the fruit on the vine though, the sweeter fall tomatoes will become. Tomatoes at the end of season may still be delicious with a few tips and tricks.

Tomato Do’s and Don’ts

Enthusiastic gardeners usually have a list of tomato do’s and don’ts but must be prepared for surprises as well. End of season tomato plants may be subject to a sudden freeze and are in danger of a quick kill. However, all is not lost in fall. Even northern gardeners can save that last crop and ripen it with better results than store bought fruit.

It is important to have good soil, the right kind of tomato for your zone, and good cultivation practices. Those heavy fruit must be staked to avoid stem breakage and watered deeply. Mulch will conserve moisture and drip or soaker hoses are great ways to water and avoid fungal problems. Watch for pests and hand pick or use diatomaceous earth to reduce insect issues.

Near the end of the season you can use a red plastic mulch around the plants to hasten ripening. Finally, watch the weather forecast. If temperatures are falling below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C.), start pulling the green ones and ripen them indoors.

Ripening Tomatoes at End of Season

Many gardeners simply place tomatoes in a warm location to ripen. This will work most of the time but takes a while, meaning the fruit could start to rot before it turns red. A quicker way to deal with fall tomatoes is to place them in a paper bag with slices of apple or a ripe tomato.

Check them daily and pull those that have colored out. Keep in mind that whitish green fruit will need longer to ripen than tomatoes already tinged with a little orange.

Another way to ripen is to wrap each fruit in newspaper and store where temperatures are between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 C.) in a single layer. Alternatively, pull up the whole plant and hang it upside down in the garage or basement.

What to Do with Green Tomatoes

If you’ve run out of options for your end of season tomato plants, harvest all you can, even the green ones. Green tomatoes are a delicious dish if cooked properly and are standard southern fare. Slice them up and dip them in egg, buttermilk, flour, and cornmeal. Fry them up and serve with a dip or turn them into a BLT. Delicious.

You can also add them to Tex-Mex rice for a zesty flavor. Green tomatoes also make excellent ketchup, salsa, relish, and pickles. So even if your fruit doesn’t all get ripe, there are still many yummy options to use up the crop.

Don’t let cooler fall temps and green tomatoes prevent you from reaping a full harvest.

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Tomato Plant Care Growing Tips – Do’s and Don’ts

Looking for some tips on caring for tomato plants?

Over time we all learn tips and tricks which help us during the growing season to produce more vegetables, color our gardens, the landscape, and even the lawn.

Little things like don’t plant unless the soil is above X degrees. Tomato plants have their “tricks” as well which help produce high yield crops of tomatoes.

Here are some do’s and don’ts about caring for tomato plants.

Growing Tomato Plants – 8 Do’s and 5 Don’ts.

Buy seedlings of tomato plants that are already flowering. You might believe you’ll be one step ahead. But… tomato plants first need to get their roots firmly established in the potting soil before flowering and producing fruits. Let them start and flower in your garden.

When growing tomato plants – pinch the flowers of the future first fruits on budding plants. It might sound ridiculous, but you’ll get greater yields by pruning tomato plants in the long run.

Over fertilize your crops of tomato plants. The majority of the people think that by adding more slow-release fertilizer, a plant grows faster, you’ll double or increase yields in the same proportion.

Too much nitrogen fertilizer in the soil will lead to more foliage and wonderful bushes. The tomato plants will look healthy but unproductive.

It is also one of the reasons for blossom end rot.

If you want to enrich your soil, use more soil compost not additional water-soluble fertilizer. Same applies for your peppers

Add a bit of Epsom salts for tomatoes to do well. When Epsom salt is added to their roots, and if they don’t need it, it will cause no harm. It’s good to take preventive measures so as to ensure healthier tomato plants.

When starting tomato plants from seed and it is time to transplant (late spring or early summer), plant your seedling several inches deep with the tops sticking out. It’s often called “Planting up to their necks.”

This enables tomato plants to grow a strong root system. The better the roots and root system, the more yields you’ll get because your growing tomatoes will get more nutrients and water intake.

Learn more about Tomato Plant Growth!

Water your tomatoes from the above, if possible. Watering them from above will make the soil splash up on the stems, thereby making them susceptible to tomato plant diseases.

Use a dripping system or soaker hose whenever you want to water your tomatoes and maintain soil moisture.

Mulch your tomatoes, especially when you’re using overhead irrigation system.

This will help to prevent the soil from splashing on the tomato stems as well as keeping the garden soil around the tomato plant moist.

Stake your tomato plants. Tomato cages are a popular and easy way to increase yield, reduce disease and make caring for them easier.

Know the type of tomatoes you’re growing. Understand that planting “determinate type” of tomatoes might stop producing fruits suddenly.

Also, know the type of plants that you will plant along tomatoes. Great companion plants for tomatoes include jalapeno pepper, nasturtiums, calendula, carrots, basil, and more.

Comments (13)


If you want to be sure your canned sauce meets tested safety standards, then alas, no, you can't throw in just anything, different every time without any type of measurement, IF your sauce includes low-acid vegetables (onions, peppers, etc. --- pretty much anything other than tomatoes. The safety of a canned recipe depends on a lot of things, including the ratio of acid to non-acid ingredients, so you can't change the ingredients (vegetable ones) as you please and be sure it'll be safe.

What you could do is look for a recipe that seems close to what you like, and then you can adapt it using certain guidelines: replace a non-acid veggie with another (e.g., 1/4 cup less onion but 1/4 cup more pepper), or add MORE tomatoes (high-acid) compared to the other ingrdients, or change the seasoning.

You shouldn't use any oil or butter in your recipe, unless it's in an approved recipe (a few such recipes call for small amounts).

If what you are talking about is a chunky-style sauce without other veggies, however, and just garlic and herbs/spices added, then there shouldn't be any reason not to can it according to the instructions for canning a similar-textured tomato product, including adding lemon juice to each jar.

If your sauce goes against any of the "don'ts" and you want to preserve it, then freeze it! Tomato sauce freezes really well and it'll be great to defrost in the depth of winter for a burst of summer flavour.

As for conflicting info, for guaranteed safe recipes and info, stick to reliable sources, which include the Ball Blue Book, county and university educational booklets and web sites, and modern books such as _The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving_ by Ellie Topp.

Hope this helps. If you read some of the threads on this site you can learn a lot --- I sure did!

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan State U extension service

How Often Should I Water A Raised Vegetable Garden? Dos and Don’ts.

If you are dreaming about, beautiful juicy fresh organic vegetables, eye-catching flowers and sweet sweet fruits, there is no better way to fulfil your dream then raised bed garden.

There are countless benefits of a raised bed garden, including high-quality gardening soil, no hard clay problem, no problem of few nutrients and no weed problem.

This all mean you can grow your favourite veggies more closely and produce a higher amount of yield. Plus if you spend a little money on it, they look so cool in your garden. Here is the question of the day:

How often should I water my raised bed garden?

Plants in a raised bed garden usually need more water and nutrients for good growth. So it is good to watch out the moisture level of your soil.

There are so many factors that involve in watering your raised vegetable garden. I will try to explain each and every one in detail. Here is the overview of factors:

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  • Time of watering
  • Rain
  • Vegetable growth and type
  • Temperature or Season

Time Of Watering:

Morning: Early in the morning is the best time to water your veggies garden. That will give the water time to run down in the soil so plants roots can reach the water.

Watering in the morning is also good because it will give plants the strength to fight with intense sunlight. If you think watering in the morning will make your plant susceptible to scorch, don’t worry it is just a myth.

Afternoon: Late afternoon or early evening is the 2nd best time to water your veggies if you don’t have time in the morning. There is still some heat left in the late afternoon to dry the plant. Most intense sunlight is gone in this time, so plants have a lot of time to absorb the water.

There are a few things you need to take care if you watering in the early evening. Do not water the plant after the heat of sunlight is totally gone. Because it will leave the plant damp and cause fungal infections which can kill the plant.


We know rainwater is the best kind of water for plants. It has so many benefits. But do not stop giving water to your plants when there is raining. Why? The water that falls as rain, is not available 100%.

Some water flows away from plants, some water evaporates. So it is good to watch out your vegetable garden even on rainy days. I’m not saying to go and start watering your each and every plant like regular days. Just see generally which plant needs some water.

In a perfect world, one-inch rain per week is enough for our plants to thrive beautifully. And of course, that is not gonna happen. That is why we need to check our soil regularly.

If you wanted to work on the next level, a rain gauge is the best thing to measure the rain per week. And if it is less then one inch per week then water your raised vegetable garden.

Vegetable growth and type:

Seeds Or Seedlings: After planting the seeds and it becoming seedlings and produce little shoots then water them on a daily basis. On this stage, they need constant moisture.

Keep your garden bed moist all the time. Do not soak the soil. There is a big difference in soaking and keeping bed soil moist. Also, do not water heavily, it will wash up all the seeds. Try not to disturb the seeds and when they reach to seedling stage.

Vegetable Stage: When plant develop nicely and you starting to see fruits like tomatoes, pepper, eggplant etc, it means its time to water them deeply. No need to water these plants on a daily basis, but don’t let the soil dry all the way down.

Below I will talk about different methods to check if the soil is dry or not. If you have tomatoes plants in your bed, and these plants are getting enough water and their leaves are not brown at edges, it means all of the other plants in your raised vegetable garden are getting enough water according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Temperature and Seasons:

The temperature of different seasons is a big factor in watering needs. Obviously, plants need more water in summer to survive against harsh sunlight. Plants need 3 times more water in hot weather than in cold weather.

This is because the evaporation process is out of control in summer. But can reduce evaporation by adding some compost, mulch (straw or leaves) to your garden bed.

In winter season extra moisture is not an option. It can freeze the plant.

1 inch per week is a rule for normal temperature which is 15C or 60F. With the increase of every 6C or 10F, you need to add half-inch of moisture. Means if the temperature is 21C then your raised vegetable garden need 1.5 inches of moisture per week.

How To Know If Soil Need Water:

There are different methods to know if your soil needs water or not. As I mentioned above you can use a rain gauge. But here are two basic methods to measure the need for water.

General Thumb Method: Put your thumb or finger inside your bed soil about 1 inch deep in normal temperature days. If it feels dry, it means this is the time to water the plants.

Why in normal temperature days? Because in very hot summer days, 1-inch moisture is not enough, make it 1.5 inches in very hot summer days.

Clay Ball Method: Pick up some soil of bed in your hand and make a ball out of it. If it sticks as a ball, it means moisture level is good. But if break, then watering is necessary.

How To Water A Raised Bed Garden?

Here are some best and basic ways to water your raised vegetable garden.

Water By Hand: This is the best and very satisfying way to water your vegetables. Use a very slow and low stream of water, it is very effective. High stream waste a lot of water.

Drip Irrigation method: This method is also called drop by drop method. Drip irrigation is not just for commercial agriculture. Home kits are available on stores on cheap prices too.

This is very effective because you can target a specific area of the bed using pressurized emitters. You can also measure the amount of water giving to your plants.

A normal sprinkler has an efficiency of 60-70%. But this method has an efficiency of 90%. Pressurized emitter targets the root zone of the plant, this is how this system minimizes the loss of water and reduce evaporation.

This drip irrigation system has different valves to control the flow of water. The first valve can turn off or on the whole supply of water. This valve is very close to the source of water. This other valves can turn off or on the supply of water on a specific place or plant.

Drip or Soaker hose. This is very effective because you can target the root zone of plants using this method. This system is best if your garden bed is uneven.

Best Practices For Your raise Vegetable Garden In Term Of Watering:

Here are few best dos for your bed:

Observe Your Plants: So many plants are very adaptive to nature. In hot summer days, plants wilt look like they are gone but they come to life when the hottest part of the day is gone. This is an adaptation to fight with harsh days. Do not let them fool you.

Deep Water: Water deeply is good for plants. Shallow water on a daily basis is not as good as water deeply only 2 or 3 times a week. It will soften the soil and will allow water to reach to roots of plants.

Soil Protection: Use mulch to save the soil in your bed. You can add some straw or dead leaves on the bed to reduce the evaporation of water. Add some more compost every year.

You can buy some compost or make your own. Adding mulch and compost is good in summer, it also protects soil from frost in the winter season. Mulch also protects plants from fungal infection and growing weeds in bed.

Know Your Soil Type: Type of soil has a direct impact on your watering schedule. Sandy soil needs more water than clay soil. Sandy soil needs more than 1 inch per week. But in case of raised bed garden, and good compost pile, 1 inch per week is good enough.

Early Morning Watering: Try to water your vegetables early in the morning. As I mentioned it before. Watering early in the morning has so many benefits. But if you don’t have time in the morning, then the late afternoon is not that bad.

After Raining Water: Believe it or not, watering after the rain has so many benefits. After the rain, the soil is soft and receive water more efficiently. The extra water on raindrops can push the rainwater deeper and close to the root zone of plants.

Talk To Plants: Talk to plants, if they have wilted leaves, it means they are trying to tell us we need water. If they have brown edges leaves, they need water. Observe them and fulfil their needs.

Observe Your Soil: Use your fingers, spoon or towel to check the moisture level of the soil.
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What Not To Do?

Do not water too fast: If you are watering with hand, do not hot very hardly with water. It will hurt the plant, plus soil does not have enough time to absorb all the water and lots of water will evaporate or runoff. That is why do not water too fast, instead of water slowly or use drip irrigation method for best results.

Shallow Watering: Shallow water on a daily basis is necessary only for seeds or seedling. Seeds don’t have roots and seedling has small roots, so they both need shallow water on a daily basis. But if plants are fully developed, then shallow water keep the roots of plants near the top of the soil. If that happen, plants can die even if there is only some heat to bear.

Using Sprinkler to water: Overhead watering is not good for plants. It will bring the wrath of bacterial and fungal diseases on plants. So much water will evaporate. That is why this method has only 60-70% efficiency. You will end up watering nearby areas, which can produce weeds in that area later.

Do not Mist your Plants: After watering, do not mist your plants, that can transfer different disease and harmful diseases from one plant to other. There are some spores of diseases that need water for transfer. So misting after watering is not a good idea.

I hope you enjoy this article and gain some knowledge. Share this post with your friends and family.

Watch the video: Get Tomatoes to Ripen Faster on the Vine - How to Ripen Green Tomatoes