Burnett: Keeping tomatoes from going to waste

There is a myriad of things you can do to make use of the tomatoes. Letting them go to waste is a shame.

All those green tomatoes and so little time left before the frost comes. This happens to me every year, but it seems there are more to deal with this season than ever before.

There is a myriad of things you can do to make use of the tomatoes. Letting them go to waste is a shame although they do make great compost material.

First, if you do a search on the Internet you will find several recipes for cooking green tomatoes from salads to salsa. But if you are still craving the taste of a nice ripe red tomato and want to use as many as you can, then here are a few ways to make it happen.

If it is possible to leave the plants right where they are and build a structure over them; a mini greenhouse if you will, then the ripening process will accelerate.

Clear poly is all you need to use as a covering. To add a little more efficiency,  install a source of heat even if it is just a couple of heating pads normally used beneath seedling trays.

Both my tomato patches are against a south wall so I could easily build a frame over them with a poly covering. Put some thought into where you plant your tomatoes next spring to accommodate this.

A second way to get those tomatoes to ripen up is something I was shown many years ago and actually did it for a couple of seasons.

Dig up your green tomato laden plants, wash off the roots and hang the entire plant upside down in a well-lit but cool spot in the house or shop. Be prepared for a bit of a mess as the plant turns crispy and disintegrates. Putting down a poly sheet will keep the mess to a minimum. The tomatoes will ripen just as if they were still out in the garden.

For the past few years I have simply picked all the green tomatoes and kept them on the kitchen counter where they gradually ripen up. We were still eating some decent quality garden grown tomatoes in mid-December last year with only a small percentage of spoilage.


I always get excited when I can share a little gardening success I experience and I just have to tell you how important bottom heat is when rooting cuttings.

I built a little cold frame this spring to start seedlings in and have found a great use for it this fall. Using a couple of heating pads for bottom heat I have in the past two weeks rooted about a dozen geraniums cuttings and an equal number of Geogia Jet Sweet Potato cuttings in my cold frame.

I checked this morning and after being in the frame for only two weeks the little four inch pots are chock full of roots.

Now to figure out where to put them for the winter!

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