Well the weather man finally called for winter in Central Florida. While many parts of the country are feeling the wrath of a blizzard, here in Florida we are all up in arms because we actually had to wear socks this weekend. Oh the horror! 😀
After I grew my first home grown tomato I knew there was no going back to grocery store tomatoes, if I could help it. There is nothing better than a fresh homegrown, vine-ripened tomato. The only problem is that tomatoes really do not like it when the weather is too cold. Tomatoes grow best between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit and the threat of frost can kill the entire plant. No matter where you are growing tomatoes in the country, when the forecast calls for the first frost of the season, it is time to bring your tomatoes indoors. So this weekend that is exactly what I did.
What many new gardeners don’t know is that tomatoes will ripen indoors even if you pick them very green. There are a few ways to do it. Some gardeners don’t pick the tomatoes off the vine but pull the entire plant and hang the whole plant upside down in a location that will not reach frost temperatures. Others individually wrap each tomato in newspaper on a flat surface, making sure to space them a few inches apart and store them in a location between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This method requires checking on them every day to see if they have ripened or not and re-wrap them if they are not ready. I say, hey! If you have time for all that, it is probably your best bet. As for me, well I am a busy and quite lazy gardener! I cannot be checking each tomato all of the time to see if it is ripe, if it has rot or mildew then re-wrap them and repeat every day. So I came up with my own way. It involves two steps: leave them on the counter and watch them ripen. That’s it! I place the tomatoes in a basket and put a towel over them to keep out as much light as possible. When they have ripened enough, I use them. That simple.
You can ripen tomatoes indoors for more reason then just cold temperatures. Many gardeners ripen tomatoes indoors to keep pests, birds, squirrels or rabbits away from the tomatoes they worked so hard to grow. Animals are smart and always seem to get to the harvest before you do. 😮
Will ripening tomatoes indoors give you tomatoes that are just as good as picking them ripe off the vine? Probably not. However any homegrown tomato will still be 100 times better than a store bought tomato. Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding feelings and a little bit of winter blues doesn’t have to stop you. After all, spring is just around the corner! 😉
Until Next Time!