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Green tomatoes on the vine



We live in zone 8a. I planted some tomato plants in mid June. The plant started to set fruit around mid-end of Sep. I still have a lot of green tomatoes on my plants....we are having fluctuating warm & cool temp here & the tomatoes on the plants are not ripening. I have covered the plants with a thick cloth to protect them from the frost.


I have a good crop on the plants & dont want to lose them. How can I get the tomatoes ripen before picking them. 


There were a few tomatoes that fell off the vine earlier. I placed them in a warm sunny place to ripen them, but they just turned mushy & orange-ish after a few days.....didnt look or feel like a normally ripe, firm, red tomato.


Pls give me tips to ripen my tomatoes before picking them & help me save my crop.




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Posted 2012-11-25T19:00:00+0000  by smi80 smi80

Hey smi80.


If your plants were in pots I might recommend bringing them indoors and putting them by a south facing window. The problem that you are running into is the same as the one we have here in Atlanta Ga. (zone 7) Temperatures are not cold enough to kill the plants but since plants don't really grow when temperatures start dropping below 55 degrees, the tomatoes just sit on the vine green as they are going to continue doing. Your cold temperatures at night have really brought the plants growth to a stop, even though your day temperatures might reach 70 degrees.


Nobody likes to see tomatoes go to waste but it happens and is often just the cost of doing business. Here in Atlanta, there is no warm weather in sight and only freezing temperatures ahead of us. I would pick the tomatoes and sit them on a south facing window sill and hope they turn red.


Hit me back here and tell me your thoughts.

Posted 2012-11-25T19:32:38+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

I have heard that at the end of the season, some people uproot thier plants & hang them upside down in the garage or some place till the tomatoes ripen....not sure if this can be done...


Pls let me know what u think...

Posted 2012-11-27T03:49:25+0000  by smi80

Hi smi80,


I've never tried the hanging technique with tomatoes before, but I often select a prized pepper plant to hang upside down at the end of the season.


I do this mainly to allow a ripened peppers to dry completely so that the seeds can be harvested and planted next season. Since peppers have less moisture than tomatoes do, it is easy to allow them to dry this way.


The energy that remains in the stalks of the plant will continue to support the fruit after it has been uprooted, but I doubt that tomatoes would receive enough added benefit to ripen any better than if they were picked first. Most of the ripening process occurs within the tomato itself.


Allow the tomatoes to remain on the vine until frost is in the forecast, then pick them and store them at room temperature.


I suppose that Fall is the season when fried green tomatoes were invented. Enjoy!




Posted 2012-11-27T13:59:09+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL


Posted 2012-11-28T01:38:11+0000  by smi80 I know what happened to my tomatoes..I gave them such loving care..only have one plant but it is HUGE and in a big pot so I cannot bring indoors. (zone 10) weather much like yours. I used Miracle Grow and the plant grew huge, with many, many tomatoes but not ripening. Only 2 have and they were horrible!! One rotten and the other mushy inside. Beefsteak tomatoes and all the rest small in size and green. Did not know temp below 55 would stop them from growing.


Will planting in ground in the Spring keep this from happening? I really would love to have garden fresh tomatoes!

Posted 2013-01-02T22:37:36+0000  by R_Morrow59

Hey R_Morrow59.


Beefsteak tomatoes are great tomatoes but because they get so big, they tend to produce less. Much of the United States Tomatoes are grown in zone 10 as the growing season is so much longer there than the rest of the U.S.. Lower temperatures will slow the growth of the plant without necessarily killing the plant but instead, slowing the plants productivity and photosynthesis.


If you amend the soil properly and give your tomato plant plenty of sun, it will do better in the ground because its root system can spread out to collect more nutrients. Continue to use the Miracle Gro, as this is one of the best fertilizers you can use, especially if you have sandy soil. Beefsteak is also a indeterminate tomato which is what I recommend planting instead of the determinates.


If you were thinking of getting a second plant or changing varieties, here are some other good options.


Determinate tomatoes typically grow shorter, more as a bush type, making it a little more manageable in pots. It does however produce its yield all within 1 to 2 months which is more ideal if you are canning your tomatoes. After these 1 to 2 months the plant will no longer produce fruit.


Top Determinates are:

Better Bush

Husky Cherry Red



Bush Goliath

Homestead Heirloom


Indeterminates work better for me because they will continue to produce fruit from day 50 to 60 until first frost. Although these plants grow taller, they produce tomatoes at a more reasonable pace, where I do not have to eat all my tomatoes at once. These plants can also be managed with a tomato cage.


Top indeterminates:

Better Boy

Big Boy

Big Beef


New Girl

Early Girl



Like I said, stick to the indeterminates and when planting your plants, I recommend planting them deep. Meaning break off the bottom set of branches and plant it 3 or 4 inches deeper that the top of the rootball. This will not hurt the plant at all. Instead, it will help it develop a much deeper healthier root system.



Posted 2013-01-03T15:23:59+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

"Continue to use the Miracle Gro, as this is one of the best fertilizers you can use"


That's Highly Subjective

Posted 2013-01-24T01:07:45+0000  by stymye

Hey stymye. 


You are right, that is highly subjective. I will recommend different types of fertilizers for different soil types and different growing conditions.


I recommend using the Miracle Gro or Granular Vigoro Vegetable Tomato food in nutrient deficient, sandy soil because it contains micronutrients that you can not get in a regular 10-10-10 fertilizer or most other all purpose plant foods. 


I would not be as quick to recommend these here in Georgia with our nutrient rich, clay soil. Here, I would not hesitate to sell someone a bag of 10-10-10 as there is not as big of a deficiency with these micros and our soil does not leach nutrients nearly as bad as sandy soil.


Many people have very limited space to plant their garden, where crop rotation is not much of an option so they have to plant their favorite veggies in the same place. These specialty fertilizers will renew some of those nutrients which were depleted from the soil the year before. This does not mean that you shouldn't rotate your crops if you can, it simply means that if you do not have that option, that this and amending your soil will give your new crops a fighting chance.


Since this person already had the Miracle Grow, I didn't need to sell them something else. We appreciate your expertise and love to learn from others like you that share the same passion for gardening and helping our friends and neighbors.


I hope to see many more posts from you, as the season is about to crank up and we welcome your knowledge and input.



Posted 2013-02-17T14:44:22+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

I had Early girls from August 2012 through Feb. 2013 (Tampa fl. zone 7 ?) Starting in Dec. by 3 plants production dropped to about 5 a week. After Christmas I cut the plants back to only those that had Tomato's on them and removed all stems that weren't producing. Within weeks, new stalks starting growing and making Tomato's. I kept toping each plant to get more sun. Production increased to 12 per week through mid-Feb. Then I pulled all the greenies for frying and dug up the plants. More than suprised of this process! My seedlings were planted 03/02/13 at 3 inches tall and we're having a cold month so I cover them in the evening and place a light under the cover. Now comes daylight savings 03/10 and folks will be standing in line by may/april for their share, I hope!

Posted 2013-03-07T14:07:08+0000  by carverjack

Hey carverjack.


Well it sounds like you have had good luck with your crop. I have always been jealous of the extended growing season for vegetables down there in zone 9. It is great to hear from you and to take things away from your experiences and ideas. We love to hear from our community members, as this helps us become better at what we do.


Thanks for your post. Keep in touch and teach us more of what you learn.

Posted 2013-03-07T15:51:59+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
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