As we are now getting a slight change in the weather and a drop in temperatures at the end of the summer, you could see a slight decline in how fast your tomatoes will ripen. There are a number of ways to make sure you harvest all the fruit left on the plant by the end of the season, however any un-ripened can be turned into chutney.
My tomato plants have been trained over the paths, but now is a good time to stop the heads
Tips to encourage end of season ripening of tomatoes
- De-leaf your plants up to or slightly past the ripening fruit - This will let more sun onto the fruit and also aid air circulation to help prevent diseases.
- Nip out the head of your plants - This will encourage the remaining fruit to swell and ripen slightly faster than if the plant was still growing.
- Remove side shoots - Once your plant has been de-headed you will find that the side shoots will be slightly more vigorous, so keep removing side shoots, so all the energy goes into the remaining fruit.
- Slow down on watering to avoid splitting fruit - If you over water after the plants have been stopped or have slowed down growing, then you are more likely to get splitting fruit.
- Do not close down the poly-tunnel or greenhouse - If you try to raise the temperature by closing down the greenhouse then you are inviting fugal disease problems, so still keep your greenhouse well ventilated as there is more humidity about as the temperatures drop.
- Avoid Blight - If you tend to get blight at the end of the season, it is a good idea to give a preventative spray with a Bordeaux mix.I do find that after spraying my plants tend to slow down, but it will not matter at this time in the growing season.
Double cropping Tomatoes
As the sides of my poly-tunnel are quite low I stopped the plant head at the wire instead of training them over the paths,which I do on the other rows. This leaves me space to add a second set of plants in the row. You can see that I have removes all the leaves from the older plants, to encourage the fruit to ripen. The second set of plants are quite thin as they were planted while the first set still had plenty leaves on so the plants were too shaded. However they will soon grow stronger with more light. If you do try double cropping please make sure that you plant the first set of tomato plants wide enough, a minimum of 20 inches is best.