Tips for Ripening Green Tomatoes

Get Ready for cold weather. We’ve been waiting all season for our tomatoes to ripen. What do we do when you know that a hard frost is going to hit and you still have lots of green ones on the vine? After ripening green tomatoes inside, I’ve had tomatoes into November and then I’m done. I won’t eat another tomato till the following season-July or August. A long wait but consider me a tomato snob as the store-bought tomatoes are never very good.

Tips on ripening tomatoes inside:
-Become a weather bug-we should check the weather for when the first freeze will arrive which historically comes mid-October here in Santa Fe.

This week Sunday through Monday is forecasted to get pretty cold at night–down to 34°F. This is not freezing (32°) but I will check the weather again on Saturday to see if it changes and if they predict a freeze or not. If it stays above 32°F, I will leave them as quite often we can squeeze out a few more weeks of decent weather for them.

-Pick em before the freeze-Pick all decent size green tomatoes and ripen inside. Leave the little ones. Ripening green tomatoes will never taste as good as sun-ripened tomatoes but they are still much better than store bought tomatoes. If you pick after the freeze, they will be ruined.

-Sort the tomatoes-Sort from rock hard green to almost ripe and put them in grocery paper bags and fold over the top. That way you don’t have to go through each bag every day and pull out the ones that are ripening sooner.
 Put them 2 layers deep.

-Use a slice of apple-In the bags with the green ones, I will put a slice of apple in the bag to help encourage ripening. An apple releases ethylene gas (the tomatoes produce this as well) which helps the ripening process. That is why you fold over the bag to help trap the gas that both the tomatoes and apple are releasing.

-Check bags every few days-When they start to change color, I pull those out and put them in other bags where they are all similar in the ripening stage.


-Leave them stem side up-they won’t rot as quickly.

-Almost ripe tomatoes-When your tomatoes are almost ripe, to increase flavor, pull them from the bags and place in a warm spot in your house a couple of days before you want to use them.


-Storage-Be sure to store them in a room that is at least 55 degrees. I made the mistake once and they didn’t have much flavor and many didn’t ripen at all. If they won’t ripen or aren’t flavorful they were probably stored in too cool a place or perhaps they were too small to begin with.

-Green tomatoes-Lastly you can always pickle green tomatoes or cook with them!

Better gobble up all the ripe tomatoes that you can! Soon the season will be over and we will be longing for flavorful ripe tomatoes again!

 

 

My favorite tomato for 2016!

lucky-cross1

I always plant several new varieties of tomatoes each year and the winner hands down for 2016 was:

LUCKY CROSS

lucky-cross-insideIt is a fantastic yellowish tomato with pink blush outside and inside as well. Sometimes they were more yellowish with pink overtones and sometimes more pinkish with some yellow overtones. No matter the color, it has an exceptional sweet flavor like a Brandywine. It never cracked or got diseases and was very prolific. It is a potato leaf variety. I haven’t been this excited about a tomato for a long time. It now beats my beloved Virginia Sweet tomatoes which are prone to cracks and diseases.

When I did some research on this tomato, the variety originally came from Craig LeHoullier (author of Epic Tomatoes). He stated it came from a Brandywine and an unknown bee-produced cross and had the luck to grow it out with these great attributes.  You can read the story of it from him here. No wonder I thought it tasted like a Brandywine! It is now a stable open-pollinated (OP) tomato and will grow out the same each generation. I saved some of the seeds from this beauty and will definitely grow it next season.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in!

tomatoes 05 24 16

All my tomatoes get planted into wall of waters when first transplanting them. Really helps them get a good head start.

So I’m gonna try to catch up on the garden in the next few posts…

All the tomatoes went into the garden in their Wall of Waters on Wednesday, May 24. My friends, Janet, Mernie and Linda plus myself manage to get all of my tomatoes in by 2 pm.  Thank you for your wonderful help! I was 5 tomatoes short, so I went over to Agua Fria Nursery (my favorite nursery) and picked up what I needed the following day and they are now in as well. I have 3 sections in my main garden and now section 1 is filled. One third done! I always espoused we should harden off out tomatoes before setting them out, but I’ve found out that if you put them into Wall of Waters, one doesn’t need to  harden them off. The Wall of Waters, act like a little greenhouse and keep them warm at nite and the winds at away-well worth the money and effort. Once the tomatoes reach the top sometime this month, remove the WOWs. Still have many things to plant but the ‘maters are in!

rhubarb spring

Rhubarb is doing well even with a hail storm we had. Somehow it was sheltered.

My perennials are coming up-rhubarb, raspberries and grapes-yeah! I didn’t have to do anything (except water)! The cabbage is already in as well.

GRAPE VINE ROW COVER

Himrod green seedless grapes grow great here. They are recovering from deer damage

Some deer came by an munched about half the leaves and grape flowers on one grape plant so now they are under row cover and recovering nicely. I pulled it off so you can see the recovery. I hope  we get the grape flowers (that will become grapes) again. The deer have not been back or at least haven’t eaten any more of them.

FUSHIMI PEPPER PLANTED

Fushimi pepper and all peppers planted under fencing material and row covered until they adjust to heat

This week, June 1-4, I transplanted all peppers-the varieties are: Jimmy Nardello (sweet Italian frying pepper), Poblano (mildly hot use for chile rellanos), Fushimi (similar to shishitos only bigger-not hot), Shishito (good frying pepper-not hot) and Corno de Toro (big sweet Italian pepper).  I put epsom salts in bottom of hole to increase flowers and peppers. I also planted all my eggplants-the variety is Fairytale. I love them, they are my favorite-I don’t grow any other. The bigger eggplants take longer to ripen and you only get a few on each plant vs fairytale eggplants are extremely prolific and ripen earlier. Fairytales are small, never bitter, thin-skinned, great sliced in half and sautéed with garlic in oil or on the BBQ-ed on the grill. You can still use them for Eggplant Parmesan, only takes more.

 

Transplanting tomatoes

IMG_8961

So many have asked, “Am I’m going to plant my tomatoes in the ground soon?” The answer is not too soon. I just transplanted all my tomatoes into 2″ pots and they need to get bigger! (Look Linda and Lava, how big they are already!) All you who ordered your tomatoes will get them, don’t worry. When? As soon as they are ready.

I actually delayed starting them this year as I don’t want to put them in their wall of waters (WOWs) too big. Wall of waters are great protecting our tender plants from the cold nights and from the WIND. I will still put my plants in WOWs even if it doesn’t freeze at night anymore because they like the warm environment the WOWs provide. And tomatoes love heat. It does look as if the freezing nights are over but one never knows. Might be one of those early warm years. Wouldn’t that be great!

Many newbies and some of us oldies get impatient to plant outside as soon as the May 15 (or even sooner) magical date has arrived. Really? It’s a guideline, not carved in stone. Will you be out there come hell or high water, cold temperatures or crazy winds trying to get an early start? To what advantage? I’ve found those with patience have the biggest advantage as they know that if they wait maybe just a little longer than that magical date, they may not only catch up to those who planted sooner, but may surpass them in growth. Why? Because the earth gets warmer, the nights gets warmer and the days will surely get warmer too-all good things when planting tomatoes (and other warm season crops). So don’t be in such a hurry-slow down and enjoy the beginning of this next growing season.

How to Save Tomato Seeds

Some of you may still have the last of your tomatoes inside your house ripening. If you would like to save the seeds or if you don’t have any seeds but would like to learn how to save them for next year then read on. It’s a simple procedure where we must remove the gel from around the seeds before drying them.

But before that, the first thing to consider is if the tomato is a hybrid or an open pollinated (OP) or an heirloom tomato. Don’t save hybrid tomato seeds as they won’t grow out true meaning they will not grow out to be the same tomato. They revert to one parent or the other and are unstable so you won’t know what you’ll get. If you have open pollinated (OP) or heirloom tomatoes you can save the seeds as both will grow out into the same tomato. An exception to this might be if you plant cherry tomatoes close to the tomatoes whose seed you want to save. Cherry tomatoes could cross-pollinate with other tomatoes but most heirloom tomatoes do not cross with each other. Just grow your cherry tomatoes away from  your other ones.

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

First you want to save a tomato that is really ripe and soft. To save the seeds from tomatoes we must remove the gel from around the seeds. Cut the tomatoes open and squeeze the tomato with the gel and seeds into a jar and add about 2-3 inches of water. Cover the jar.

white mold grows on top of the water

white mold grows on top of the water

In a few days you will notice that there is a white mold growing on top of the water and most of the seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Don’t freak out, this white stuff is fermentation working on your seeds.

drain the tomatoes and stuff off

drain the tomatoes

After about 4 days, strain the tomato seeds in a fine sieve or strainer and wash the yuck and tomato stuff off of the seeds. If you wait too long the seeds will start to germinate which will ruin them.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

The seeds can now be put on wax paper to dry. If you use paper towels, the seeds may stick to the paper causing trouble removing them. Be sure to label them so you remember which variety they are. After they are thoroughly dry, store them in a plastic bag or jar for next year. It’s fun to save seeds and see what happens next year.

Produce for sale from the Tomato Lady-Friday August 21

Jannine's bean tee pee

Hi folks.  I know many of you locals follow my blog. I have 125 tomato plants and 3o heirloom varieties this year.  For some unknown reason my tomatoes are taking their time turning red (or orange or striped or black or purple). This is weird as I would have thought that they would all be kicking ass by now and I would be at the Farmers Market. The weather has been nice and warm, the rain wonderful and the tomatoes look great-just still green. Ah mother nature! Whata ya going do? I’ve learned years ago to just surrender to her. So…

Since I don’t have enough tomatoes ready (I need boxes and boxes of them) for the Farmer’s Market this Saturday, I do have some heirloom tomatoes to sell plus I have LOTS of other heirloom veggies—Shishito peppers, wonderful varieties of french and Italian green beans—Rattlesnake beans, Italian Romano beans, Trionfo Violetto beans, Royal Burgundy beans and some french filets, tasty sweet cucumbers and fantastic huge ruby red chard that melts in your mouth when steamed and drizzled with a fine balsamic vinaigrette.

I will be selling them from 2 -4 pm this Friday August 21 at our studio:

Liquid Light Glass
926 Baca Street #3
Santa Fe, NM
Call me if you have questions. 660-4986

I will be starting at the Santa Fe Farmer’s market Saturday August 29th from 7 am-1 pm. But don’t be late as I will sell out probably by 11 am. You can find me inside the building-just look for my ‘TOMATO LADY’ SIGN above my booth.

So come catch up with me and get some fantastic veggies for yourself this Friday without the parking hassles! Hope to see you here at the studio!