Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

I Hate My Tomatoes!

Posted on | September 9, 2009 | 28 Comments

Garden In Early September: Tomatoes Took Over!

I’m so over my tomatoes. I’ve lovingly cared for them and they don’t return the favor? My tomatoes were doing awesome all summer. They grew huge. I bragged to all friend’s in the New York area who lost their tomatoes to the Blight how amazing my plants were doing. The plants did so well that they took over my whole perennial garden.

Their 5-foot-tall growth at first was exciting but turned quickly into a labor of not so much love. Every time we had a rainy or windy day the plants fell over onto the sidewalk. Large limbs full of buds broke off. But everyday I carefully tie the branches back up in hopes of being saved.

I thought by the end of August I would have a whole crop of tomatoes to eat. Turns out my tomato farm didn’t go according to plan. I have lots of tomatoes but their all green. The only thing red are the cherries. I’ve realized my garden didn’t get as much direct sunlight as I originally anticipated. I’m totally frustrated. I give up. You won tomatoes.

What I learned about growing tomatoes:
1. Don’t use tomato cages. Use stakes or large bamboo sticks gathered into a tee pee.
2. Plant your baby plants really deep. This stops the plants from getting too lanky.
3. Be truthful with yourself about your sunlight.
4. The farmer’s market has a great selection of tomatoes starting in mid-August.

Green Tomatoes In September

Green Tomatoes In September

Green Tomatoes In September

Green Tomatoes In September

Green Tomatoes In September

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

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28 Responses to “I Hate My Tomatoes!”

  1. Amanda Warren
    September 9th, 2009 @ 9:51 am

    If you pick them and leave them in a sun lit window seal, will they turn?


  2. Kerry
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    Your tomatoes look gorgeous! If you picked them green, don’t put them in the sun. Put them in a brown paper bag and keep your fingers crossed. Depending on how close to ripe they were when you picked them, some will probably ripen. I would say half of mine ripen and half rot.

    Shiny skin is a good marker for telling if a tomato is almost ripe.


  3. abigail
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:27 am

    if you pick the green ones and put them in a bowl or brown paper bag with one ripe tomato or a ripe banana. Turns out, fruit talks, and ripe fruit tells unripe fruit to get with the program.
    If it’s still warm there the ripening cherry tomatoes will encourage your other tomatoes to hurry up.


  4. rifferaff
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:40 am

    now you can make lots of fried green tomato blt’s though! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fried-Green-Tomato-Blt-108430


  5. nick
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:42 am

    If the world gives you green tomatoes … make relish!

    These are not a lost cause at all! You can save them, and make a delicious, mild relish out of pickled green tomatoes. I have a recipe, if you’re interested. They’re a prized condiment in Nova Scotia.

    Great blog — keep it up.


  6. Mom
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:48 am

    Becky said to strip off the leaves and the tops and any new buds. Then gently pull them out of the ground (the plants)about two inches. She claims this fools them into thinking its fall and they ripen. Its worth a try with one plant at least.


  7. Amy
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:58 am

    Forget struggling with making them turn! At least make a huge batch of fried green – my mom taught me how to make them Italian style: dip slices in egg then Italian bread crumbs. Fry until golden. They’re so awesome!


  8. Katy Elliott
    September 9th, 2009 @ 11:22 am

    Wow guys, thanks for all the great ideas. I love the blt recipe. Maybe I’ll try making fried green tomatoes tonight and the blt tomorrow?

    Let me know if you know any other fun recipes.


  9. veronica
    September 9th, 2009 @ 11:57 am

    Thanks for this post. I’m also here in MH and had lovely tomatoes on Saturday (had been eating the cherry and grape for the past 3 weeks but have been waiting for the larger ones to ripen) and by Monday had lost 6 of my 7 heirloom plants to late blight. It was a sad morning of ripping them out of the garden. I now have 2 huge bowls of healthy but very green tomatoes. I’m going to try a few of the suggestions above.


  10. Emily
    September 9th, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    Hi Katy! STOP watering them. I don’t know enough about your climate to know how much time you still have left but you need to stress them out. Similar to pulling them out of the ground a bit. It has started raining here in Portland (OR) but hopefully you still have some hot weather ahead. It’s definitely worth a try!

    Look at all of those cherry tomatoes you have! :)


  11. sarah k.
    September 9th, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

    definitely pinch off the new suckers (little buds in the “crotch” of stem and leaf. those sap energy. also definitely pinch off new flowers. it’s still early in the tomato season, especially for homegrown. do not despair! and they will keep for weeks, sometimes months, while ripening from green to red, if stored in a cool place with lots of air and not too much sun.


  12. Jennifer
    September 9th, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

    The same thing happened to me, but I am in TEXAS. Tons of loving care and sun equals nothing but green.


  13. Serban
    September 9th, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

    Here in Romania we pickle the green ones. As I see, you have lots of them so they could last you for the next year or even more. :-)

    I had the same issue with my dahlias. I was so happy to see them growing so fast ’till I realised it was only because they were craving for light. :-(



  14. Jessica
    September 9th, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    Please don´t give up! It´s a try every year. I´ve got half green and half red. And for now it´s too late for the greens because winter is coming in germany.


  15. Sara
    September 9th, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    I just harvested a bunch of mine that were green too. My Mom and I have both had a lot of luck with putting them in single layers in a cardboard box with a sheet of newspaper over them. Then I just put them in a cool place and they ripen. Putting a couple red ones in with the green ones helps too because they put off gases that help the others turn red.

    Green ones are great on BLTs too.


  16. Tamara Sheehan
    September 9th, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

    Don’t hate them! They tried hard! Maybe it was too shady or too cool for them.

    If you want to ripen them, put the tomatoes in a bowl with some apples (the gas the apples give off will ripen tomatoes), or do the brown paper bag trick. Or, of course, green tomato jam. Yum.


  17. Bee
    September 9th, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

    Katy, your tomatoes look great! It has not been a great year for tomatoes here in Western Mass. We got hit with the ‘blight’ and had to harvest the non-blighted tomatoes while they were still green to ‘save’ them. They’re slowly ripening indoors… yours look much nicer!


  18. jen jafarzadeh
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:45 pm

    you certainly get an A for effort, Katy. And I love fried green tomatoes — love. wish I could share in your green tomato crop!


  19. Pamela
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

    Last year we had an early frost. I had to rush outside and pick all my tomatoes while they were still green. The brown bag trick worked great for most, but I still had a lot of green ones left.

    This recipe for Green Tomato Cake if FABULOUS! Really! I’ve made it several times since last year (minus the coconut) and everyone I serve it to loves it. It also works with red tomatoes.



  20. Katy Elliott
    September 9th, 2009 @ 10:51 pm

    I’m going to try this brown bag trick! I’ll report back.


  21. Lori D.
    September 10th, 2009 @ 8:50 am

    I used to can green tomatoes. Had to buy them at the farmer’s market and it was hard to get enough of them. It takes 3 days. First day, wash, slice thinly and salt the green tomatoes in a bowl (salt them heavily, you want to draw out any bitterness). Cover and let sit overnight with the salt. Day 2-rinse the salt off and cover with apple cider vinegar. Day 3-have sterilized canning jars ready( dishwasher does the trick). drain off the cider vinegar. Start packing into jars, alternating with roughly chopped garlic cloves and dried oregano. You need a fair amount of good quality olive oil for this. Put a few slices in a jar, sprinkle with garlic and oregano. Keep doing this until jar is nearly full. Now cover tomatoes with olive oil. Seal up the jars and let sit for as long as you can keep your hands off of them. These are delicious on sandwiches and the olive oil in the jar becomes infused with the garlic and oregano. Can use it for dressings, cooking-yum!


  22. Janet
    September 12th, 2009 @ 1:14 am

    I have tried and failed miserably with tomatoes. My best friend is the produce corner of the market! Even your green ones look amazing!


  23. Jake
    September 13th, 2009 @ 8:33 am

    One thing you might also look at is a good pruning technique. I noticed in one of the pics that you have some pretty big suckers. Suckers will take your tomato plants in a direction that you would never imagine! Here is a link telling you how to properly prune your plants. Good luck,



  24. Sophie
    September 14th, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

    Don’t give up! My tomatoes were green until this weekend and I finally picked 3 Pomarosa on Sunday! They were so sweet and worth the wait. I live in Calgary, Alberta, and our nights have already become quite cool and there is not much sunshine in a day left.

    I panicked a couple of weeks ago and started “hacking” my plants that had gotten way too big. I find that beautiful, luscious tomato “bushes” aren’t as generous as the shorter, not as leafy ones. I cut out the bottom branches and the new ones on top and all the really small tomatoes. Now we have pink tomatoes! And they are HUGE!!!!


  25. Brice Corder
    September 14th, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    So, I totally understand your pain!! I have always wanted to leave a comment on your blog but never knew what to say besides the standard… your blog is fab!!
    Well, here goes!!

    Your blog is Fab!!, and tomatoes are the spawn of evil garden gnomes this year!! Our gardens look a like!! All I have are green ones. I was so excited because I got a ton of heirlooms plants from a friend this year, but because of bad sunlight on my part as well all i have is green tomatoes and cherries. Thanks to those commenters who presented the good ideas on what to do, and thank you Katie for having a great blog! So much fun to stay reading.

    And yes the farmers market has provided me with my tomato fix yet another year after my epic fail!! lol


  26. Rand Lee
    September 24th, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

    Seems that folks all over the country had problems with tomatoes not ripening this year. My niece in Connecticut was complaining about it. Here in Northern New Mexico, I grow tomatoes in 10 gallon pots. Grew 41 varieties this year, and I think I cossetted them too much. I read somewhere you should let your plants wilt slightly between waterings, and reduce the suckers to 2 stems per plant, in order to panic the tomato plants into bearing and ripening lots of fruit early. Dunno. I got 130+ pounds of ripe fruit off my plants this year, but frost struck 2 nights ago and I picked my last usable greenies this a.m. Green Tomato Pie, anyone?


  27. yvette
    October 13th, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

    I have green cherry tomatoes in a brown paper bag. How long does it take for them to ripe?

    I am enjoying them!Is it ok to give neighbors green cherry tomatoes? Should I wait until they ripen?


  28. Katy Elliott
    October 14th, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    It can take up to a week depending on how green they are.


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