Why Your Garden Tomatoes Never Turn Red

September 17, 2020

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Home gardening is more popular than ever and one of the most popular vegetables to grow are tomatoes. The good news for us in our area of Florida, is that we generally have two growing seasons; one of which is this month (for those in the southern listening area) and in early February, typically after the final frost. But for all the benefits of living in a warmer climate, it can be disappointing to never have your green tomatoes turn red.  The reason maybe that you are giving a little too much TLC to your plants.  Usually, tomatoes that aren't ripening on the vine are overfed and overwatered. It happens to gardeners with the best intentions, but once the plant reaches the size you want, it's time to cut back on fertilizing.  Typically, you'll only need to fertilize tomato plants two or three times during the season. Reducing water, even to the point where a little stress (slight wilting) shows before you water again, can push the plant to ripen its fruit. And the weather can also play a role in ripening tomatoes. The best temperature range for ripening green tomatoes is between 68 and 77°F. They can still ripen outside that range, but the process will be slower and when temperatures reach over 80°F, the plants won't produce lycopene and carotene, which are the two pigments responsible for ripe tomato color. That is why you could end up with tomatoes that are yellowish-green or orange. The good news is you can harvest your green tomatoes and let them continue to ripen indoors. As long as the green tomatoes have started to turn color a bit and are a little soft to the touch, there's a chance they'll ripen indoors. Place your harvested tomatoes in an area that's 60 to 65°F (pantry) for a couple of weeks. You can also try placing the tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. Apples and bananas give off ethylene gas, which helps speed up the ripening process, and putting one of the fruits in a bag with your tomatoes will expose them to it.

SOURCE: Better Homes & Gardens

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