Red-y or Not


Heirloom tomatoes, in my opinion, are superior in flavor and in beauty, but being a hot weather crop and a finicky one, too, they do not always love the Montana climate.  This year has been especially kind to the tomato — usually by September we’ve got lows in the 40’s, but this year, it rarely drops much into the 50’s.  Tomatoes thrive when the nights stay warm.  Still, you’re sure to notice your heirloom tomatoes may be fruiting prolifically, but have been green for what seems like weeks or months.  I have been fretting over my tomatoes as the first frost looms in the not too distant future.  I am determined to have red tomatoes (or green and yellow tomatoes if we’re talking green zebras)!

After spending hours at the PEAS Farm trellising and pruning the many tomatoes growing in the hoop houses, I have also taken to doing the same to my own crop of tomatoes.  I learned to not cut off growing tip of the tomato plant when pruning.  But I also recently learned that in desperate times, desperate pruning might help.  I pruned of all suckers and any stems that did not have tomatoes growing on them.  I even pruned off the growing tip of each plant, which is usually against the rules, as that stem will not continue to grow upwards and produce more flowers and subsequently, fruit.  Cutting off the excess foliage will help the plant send more energy to maturing the seeds at are already on the plant, which translates to the ripening of the fruits.  Some of my tomatoes have already been turning red since the radical pruning!

Using Reemay or some type of covering at night as nighttime temperatures grow chillier may also help redden your tomatoes.  If these tricks don’t help, at least we have Ingrid’s salsa verde recipe for your bumper crop of green tomatoes!