“Why won’t my tomatoes ripen?”

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/12, 2013 at 08:41 AM

“Why won’t my tomatoes ripen?”

This weekend I was at a very nice event, a barn dance. In between promenades, I was chatting with some people about gardening, one of my favorite small talk subjects. As often happens when talking gardening, tomatoes came up. And as often happens when talking tomatoes, concerns about fruit not ripening came up. So, are there any ways to speed up the process?

Myself, I’ve gardened enough to learn that tomatoes will ripen when ready and once they do, you will have an avalanche of tomatoes (they all seem to ripen at once). So, the best advice I can give is have some patience.

If you aren’t the patient type, there actually are a few ways you can get tomatoes to ripen. You can remove small, imperfect, and diseased tomatoes (like those affected with blossom end rot). Fewer tomatoes means less demand of the plant, so the tomatoes can focus energy on ripening the remaining tomatoes. Although in this case, you may end up with fewer tomatoes at the end of the year.

You can lay down a mulch, such as newspaper or grass clippings, to keep the roots cool and shielded from the sun. Tomatoes prefer their roots to be below 80 degrees, and keeping them cool will enable the tomato plant to put more energy into ripening fruit as opposed to growing deep roots. Another idea—don’t put down any fertilizer or water too much. This will cause the tomato plant to focus on growing more foliage as opposed to ripening fruit.

Another potential factor is the type of tomato. Not all tomatoes are red, and there are even varieties that stay mostly green.

But really, patience is the best solution here. The tomatoes will ripen eventually. I know, I know…tomatoes are all over the place, at farmers markets, your coworkers are bringing them in, and you see them on other people’s plants. But you will get them.

And in the meantime, you always make fried green tomatoes.

Tags: tomatoes | gardening |

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA


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