Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

Magic Tomatoes End of Season

Of Mice and Mountain MenSome time ago I read that when winter approaches and you still have many green tomatoes on the plants, you can (if you're growing determinant: bush type tomatoes) pull the whole bush up and hang it upside down in a garage or basement where they will be protected from frost and the tomatoes will continue to ripen. Over the course of the next few weeks you will continue to harvest ripe tomatoes from your upside-down bushes.

It is mid-November and I still have lots of tomatoes on my plants. Unfortunately mine are indeterminate (vine type) plants, so yanking them out by the roots is not an option for me. The full-size tomatoes only had a few dozen green tomatoes left, so I harvested those. We made a green tomato pie with some and I wrapped the rest in newspaper and set them in a cardboard box. I check them every couple of days and remove those that have ripened. These don't have the robust flavor of a sun-ripened tomato, but they're not bad.

My cherry tomatoes are still loaded with greenies. Earlier I pinched off the smallest fruits and all blooms to force the vines to concentrate on ripening the maters. I have been harvesting those that ripen at a rate that keeps my family, my mom, and a lady at church well supplied. Still, there are many green ones left and a hard freeze is expected. What to do?

Cherry Tomatoes in a basket

In a previous year I turned the green tomatoes, bell peppers and jalapenos into green tomato relish. That is good, but I still have dozens of jars of that left. No, I want these to ripen. Wrapping hundreds of cherry tomatoes in paper does not appeal to me at all. I decided to try a modified version of the bat-like tomato preservation scheme. I cut off a basket of vine branches two or three feet long. Each bearing two or more good clumps of tomatoes. I bound these together into a bundle with string. I hung the bundle in our guest bathroom, where they will not be in anyone's way. And I waited.

Will tomatoes on dismembered tomato plants continue to ripen like those on whole plants do?

See for yourself!

Tomatoes_Cherry-bundled vines

I am getting a handful of ripe tomatoes every day from this bundle. This was a test: just a small percentage of the vines I could have cut, bound and hung. Had I harvested them all, I'd be supplying my friends with fresh tomatoes into December!