Gardener's World tips: Why your outdoor tomatoes haven't ripened
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With September just around the corner, many gardeners are desperate for their tomatoes to ripen and turn red. Cooler weather and impending frost can ruin tomato plants so it’s best to harvest them sooner rather than later. If you’re stuck with lots of green outdoor tomatoes, you may be wondering where you went wrong this year.
However, even the most experienced gardeners could find themselves in the same position.
Gardeners’ World’s Kate Bradbury explained the reasons why outdoor tomatoes sometimes don’t ripen in a video for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine in 2016.
Kate also explained what steps you can take to “hurry things along”.
The gardening expert said: “If your outdoor tomatoes aren’t ripening it could be down to low temperatures and lack of sun.
“You could cut off some of the foliage to let more light into the fruit, or you can pick off the green fruits and ripen them indoors.
“One of the best ways to do this is to put the fruits in a paper bag with a ripe banana that would give off ethylene gas to ripen the tomatoes.
“Next year, consider growing a small-fruited variety that will ripen more quickly than the large-fruited cultivars.”
When your tomatoes turn red depends on the variety and where you’re growing them.
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However, generally, tomatoes begin to ripen around six to eight weeks after flowers pollinate.
Tomatoes are less likely to ripen if it’s too hot or too cold.
The ideal temperature for tomatoes is between 20C and 25C.
If temperatures plummet to around 12C, they could take a week or two longer to ripen.
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Temperatures above 30C will also slow down the ripening process.
Also, tomato plants can often end up putting most of their energy into leaves and flowers throughout the summer which is why they can become overgrown.
Pruning and chopping back foliage will ensure the plant concentrates its energy on the fruit.
Make sure you cut off new growth and trim back new flowers.
If you find your tomato plants are producing tiny tomatoes that are unlikely to mature, pull them off so your plant can concentrate on the bigger ones.
Another tip for ripening tomatoes is to reduce your watering.
This may sound counterintuitive but exerting a little stress on your plants can push the plant to ripen its fruit.
This technique could also stop the plant from producing new fruit.
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