How To Get Green Tomatoes To Ripen More Quickly

As the end of the growing season approaches, it is common to find that there are still a lot of green tomatoes on your plants. You may worry that there is not time for these to ripen before the cold weather arrives and frost threatens. While tomatoes will still ripen off the vine, tomatoes always taste better when they are ripened on the plants. The good news is that there are still ways that you can increase your harvest of ripe tomatoes and get green tomatoes to ripen more quickly. Here are some things that you can try:

Cover Your Tomatoes to Extend the Growing Season

If you already grow your tomato plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel, you are already ahead of the curve. The increased temperatures and protective environment inside such as structure will give you a little longer to get your harvest in before cold weather arrives. The protection will mean that green tomatoes ripen more quickly.

If you grow your tomatoes outside, you can buy yourself a little more time and encourage quicker ripening by covering your tomato plants with a mini polytunnel, cloche or other protective layer.

Increase the Temperatures Around Your Plants

In addition to covering your plants, you can also consider introducing some form of heating in order to get green tomatoes to ripen more quickly. For example, inside a polytunnel or other cover, you can introduce more thermal mass, in the form of a water container, stone, brick or ceramic material. These things store the heat of the sun, and release it slowly when temperatures fall. This can temper any extremes in temperature, and help ripen green tomatoes more quickly.

You could also consider adding some sort of eco-friendly space heater, such as a solar powered electric heater, or a biomass stove to your undercover growing area, or running hot water through the space. You can also consider creating a hot bed – introducing organic materials that will generate heat as they decompose.

Cut Off Excess Foliage, Flowers and Tiny Fruits

Channeling a tomato plant's energy into ripening existing fruits can be accomplished by cutting off excess foliage towards the bottom of the plants, and removing any flowers and tiny fruits that will not have time to ripen before the end of the season. By doing this, you can help make sure that the plants efforts are directed into ripening rather than in creating more foliage, flowers or fruits.

Introduce Ethylene Gas to Get Green Tomatoes to Ripen More Quickly

As they ripen, certain fruits give off ethylene gas. This is a substance that will encourage other nearby fruits to ripen more quickly. It is a good idea, therefore, to introduce some other ripening fruits to the area. As they give off this gas, your green tomatoes will ripen more quickly. Many people place ripening bananas, for example, on the ground beneath tomato plants. Not only will they rot down to add potassium and other nutrients to the soil, they will also help to speed up the ripening process.

Give Your Plants a Shock to Encourage Ripening

Finally, tomato plants will ripen their existing fruits more quickly (to produce viable seed) if they feel that they are threatened in some way. Introducing a little stress to tomato plants by reducing watering and by giving plants a quick tug to loosen their roots, can both be ways to get green tomatoes to ripen more quickly towards the end of the season.