Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garden Advice

This summer, I have had a bounty of healthy green tomatoes which have rotted on the vine while turning red. This may be a blight, too much rain, or the fact that the fruit are low to the ground and not well staked. There are still about 20 green tomatoes left in my garden. Does anyone know if I would be better off just picking them now, while they are green? Will they ripen on the windowsill?

Do you have suggestions for next year so that this does not happen again (scrap the whole thing and buy from the farm stand is the solution I am leaning towards at this point!).


Emily said...


My best guess is that you're dealing with blossom end rot, one of the most common tomato ailments. It can come from insufficient calcium or uneven watering. Here are some links with info:

When I was living in CT, we could get our soil tested for free by the local ag station. This is a great service for helping to get your garden started off right.

In New Jersey, it looks like there is a small fee - but it might make an interesting homeschool activity, especially as the lab is located relatively near you:

As for picking the tomatoes while green, this site suggests that it's possible once they start to show a bit of color on the vine. You can also explore some green tomato recipes with the kids!

Good luck! I'll be back in the US starting in January so maybe we can catch up at some point and share gardening ideas in person.


Anonymous said...

Mary Alice,

This might be well beyond anything you did.

"A highly contagious fungus that destroys tomato plants has quickly spread to nearly every state in the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic, and the weather over the next week may determine whether the outbreak abates or whether tomato crops are ruined, according to federal and state agriculture officials."

Read full article here:

Gina said...

If you planted them in the same spot as last year, they probably fell victim to a common fungus. If you plant your crops in the same place every year, specific types of microbes will find themselves a happy home living in the soil, and when the conditions are right (all the rain and a low soil temperature), the microbes will feed on the plant quite well. Rotating your crops will prevent this from happening. A microbe that feeds on tomatoes won't feed on peppers, for example.

Cut the remaining green tomatoes from the vines with the tops still on them and put them in a paper bag and they will ripen.

Mary Alice said...

Wow, this is very helpful already! I knew I could count on you all, glad I got on the Crowd Sourcing bandwagon.

Emily, we would love to see you and here all about your adventures!

This Heavenly Life said...

I'm having this issue too - in Missouri. Luckily, I only have a few plants and most of the produce grew really well until about mid-July. By that time, I'd already harvested and canned all I could, and now we're just hoping for a few to not burst and rot before they get fully ripe. Good advice you've gotten so far...I think I'll try ripening some in a paper bag. It's either that or fried green tomatoes!

Melanie B said...

For using up those green tomatoes, I highly recommend this hot and spicy green tomato soup. We made it this week and loved it.

Mary Alice said...

I was thinking of trying some green tomato salsa, since the sweetness would not be as important, has anyone done that?

NC Sue said...

Green tomatoes will ripen in a brown paper bag. Just keep checking them regularly since you're having issueswith rotting. You may want to test your soil and add some lime when you get ready to put your garden bed to bed for the winter. Check with your local agricultural extension service for additional information - they're VERY helpful, and there's lots of literature and advice available at no charge.

Anonymous said...

You can also ripen green tomatoes in a cardboard box, with a layer of newspaper over them, only stack the tomatoes one layer deep. I used a 'flat' type box. Good luck.


sara said...

Here is a link to a great blog the just posted something on growing tomatoes!