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  Last Chance for Tomatoes
  September 8th, 2006


Save Those Tomatoes!
Green tomatoes can be ripened indoors provided they have reached a reasonable stage of maturity, but it makes sense to ripen as many as possible on the plant. As soon as a severe frost is forecast, however, harvest the remaining fruit and ripen as many as possible indoors.

Frost will kill tomatoes, but you can often extend their season by a few weeks and ripen a few more fruits on the plant with protection. Bush plants that are already low-growing are best covered with a large cloche. Packing straw beneath the plants first will also provide a little insulation.

Cordon-trained tomatoes must be lowered before they can be protected with cloches. Untie the plant and remove the stake.

Lay a bed of straw on the ground, then carefully lower the plants onto this. If you lay all the stems in the same direction, you will have a neat row of tomatoes that are easily covered with cloches.

Fleece can be used to offer wind protection and enough shelter to keep off a degree or two of frost, though it does not warm the air during the day in the same way as glass or some rigid plastics. Drape several layers over low-growing varieties, and peg it down securely along each side, and at the ends.

Fleece can also be used to protect cordon tomatoes while still staked. Sheets of fleece can be wrapped round, or you may be able to buy fleece produced as a tube. Simply cut off the required length, slip it over the plant, and secure at the top and bottom.

If all else fails, simply pullup the whole plant by the roots. Hang the plant upside down with tomatoes attached in the garage or other moderate temperature location. The fruits will continue to ripen on the vine and provide great late season tomatoes.

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