You’ve labored exhausting to develop and nurture your tomato vegetation, however their manufacturing appears to be petering off on the finish of the season. If you need contemporary tomatoes at Labor Day BBQs and autumn festivities, there are a number of methods to increase your tomato season.
As an natural farmer, I invested a ton of cash and labor into my tomato vegetation, so I would like them to final so long as potential. Correct selection choice, staggered plantings, and smart pruning are only a few of the methods you possibly can maximize your tomato plant yields over an prolonged time interval. Use these 9 methods to get pleasure from as many vine-ripened fruits as potential via late summer season and fall.
How Do I Maintain My Tomatoes Producing All Summer season?
The keys to an prolonged tomato season are correct selection choice, succession sowing, common pruning, and considerate irrigation. The proper planning and care can preserve your tomato vegetation producing all through the summer season, so you’re by no means with no contemporary heirloom to your sandwiches or a juicy cherry tomato to your salad.
Use these methods to increase your harvest all the way in which to the primary frost:
In contrast to determinate tomatoes, these tomatoes produce till frost.
Succession sowing helps stagger and lengthen your harvests.
Take away suckers that take vitality away from fruit manufacturing.
An excessive amount of water through the fruiting section dilutes taste and slows ripening.
An excessive amount of nitrogen could cause an extra of foliage and fewer fruit.
Late-season pests and blight can prematurely halt harvests.
If potential, use a chilly body or row cloth to maintain tomatoes cozy when temperatures dip under 55°F.
9 Methods to Prolong Your Tomato Harvest
Tomatoes are one of the crucial high-maintenance vegetation within the backyard, so that you wish to make your efforts worthwhile. So long as they’re wholesome, vegetation ought to eagerly produce vine-ripened fruits for so long as the climate permits. Use these methods to develop tomatoes like a professional all season lengthy.
1. Select Indeterminate Varieties
Indeterminate tomatoes, additionally known as vining or pole varieties, naturally produce a steady provide of recent flowers and fruits. Indeterminate means their top or development isn’t predetermined. The tallest tomato plant on file grew over 65 ft tall within the UK! It was clearly an indeterminate selection.
They develop foliage and fruit for so long as the climate stays between 60°F and 95°F. Colder and warmer temperatures can set off flower drop, however vegetation usually recuperate and begin producing once more when favorable circumstances return.
In tropical climates, indeterminates are perennials that yield tomatoes year-round. The one factor stopping these vegetation in temperate climates is chilly climate.
In distinction, determinate or bush varieties are likely to set fruit suddenly. In different phrases, their top and manufacturing are predetermined by their genetics. As soon as the day size shifts, their foliage development slows, they usually channel all their vitality into a giant flush of fruit manufacturing. That is nice in case you want a big harvest of sauce tomatoes for canning, however it’s not superb for an prolonged harvest season.
A few of our favourite long-season indeterminate cultivars are:
- ‘Solar Gold’: Arguably the tastiest cherry tomato, these vegetation are prolific producers.
- ‘Cherokee Purple’: This basic heirloom eagerly produces darkish burgundy fruits all summer season.
- ‘Higher Boy’: These basic, flavorful tomatoes reliably produce all through the season.
- ‘Beefsteak’: These large, dense tomatoes will continue to grow till frost.
- ‘Early Woman’: Although thought-about an early-season selection, this indeterminate yields into fall.
When doubtful, search your seed packet or catalog for clues like “vining,” “pole,” or “indeterminate.” For an prolonged tomato season, keep away from cultivars labeled as “bush” or “determinate.”
2. Present Sturdy Help
If you happen to plan to choose tomatoes for months, your vegetation will want dependable assist. Trellising encourages upward development to maintain fruits off the bottom. Furthermore, they be sure that your vines don’t snap or bend from the burden of all these heavy fruits.
Indeterminate vines do greatest when educated up a powerful T-post pole, cattle panel, or A-frame construction. Use twine or plastic trellis clips to safe the vines and practice them to develop in your required course. Generally, a heavy cluster of fruit wants added assist, like a mesh bag, to carry them up whereas they ripen.
A sturdy trellis can scale back your spacing wants for prolific tomato vegetation, however it’s nonetheless essential to offer no less than 18” between vegetation to allow them to constantly produce with out feeling overcrowded.
3. Follow Succession Planting
Succession planting is the science and artwork of staggering your seeding dates to yield steady harvests. In zones eight and hotter, an prolonged tomato season could warrant 2-3 successions of tomatoes separated by 3-4 week intervals. In early spring, you can begin your first spherical of tomato seedlings, then wait a couple of month to sow one other spherical.
This creates a little bit of an “insurance coverage coverage” as a result of as the primary planting matures and fruits, you’ve one other spherical of vegetation able to account for any losses. As your spring planting of tomatoes fades in late summer season, the later plantings can buffer your harvests with extra autumn fruits.
Industrial growers use succession sowing to reap a steady provide of any crop. Although a single planting of indeterminate tomatoes can yield all season lengthy, some vegetation get infested by pests or illnesses or get worn out. The youthful, later planting is able to fill any gaps in your harvest window.
For the perfect success, make sure the later successions are quicker-maturing varieties with fewer days to maturity. In colder climates, you might solely have sufficient time for 2 succession plantings separated by 2-3 weeks.
4. Reduce Again on Watering and Fertilizing
It could appear counterintuitive, however an excessive amount of irrigation or fertilizer on the finish of summer season can stall fruit ripening and trigger watered-down tomato taste. Extreme nitrogen could cause extra lush foliage development on the expense of fruit manufacturing.
Many farmers additionally in the reduction of on water earlier than tomato harvests to make sure the fruits have concentrated sugars and taste profiles. This additionally prevents fruits from cracking, which might be problematic in case you overwater.
Furthermore, autumn brings rainier climate in lots of climates. As you close to fall, scale back your supplemental watering to a few times per week. All the time examine the soil earlier than irrigating. Whether it is barely damp within the higher inches, depart the vegetation for an additional few days to allow them to focus their vitality on ripening current fruit.
Bear in mind, constant moisture is essential for joyful tomato vegetation. Actually, large fluctuations in soil moisture (from extraordinarily dry to extraordinarily moist) are the first reason behind blossom finish rot, which causes nasty rotten tomato “butts.” This trick solely applies to the latter half of the season if you wish to encourage the ripening of tomatoes already on the vine.
5. Guarantee Correct Pollination
Prolonging your harvests means extra flowers want to show into fruit. This may’t occur in case your flowers are falling off the plant and/or failing to pollinate.
Tomatoes are primarily pollinated by wind and bees. In case your vegetation are rising in an space with out a lot airflow or pollinators, you might must hand-pollinate to safe the longest potential harvests. That is notably vital when extending your tomato season. Late-season storms could cause pollen to grow to be too sticky or waterlogged to journey contained in the flower correctly.
Each flower has the potential to show right into a fruit so long as the pollen reaches the feminine pistil inside every flower. As a result of tomato flowers are “excellent” (containing each female and male elements), they’ll pollinate themselves so long as there’s some movement. You possibly can shake the plant or gently vibrate an electrical toothbrush on the again of the flowers to encourage pollination and a higher fruit set.
6. Harvest Usually and Take away Broken Fruit
Fruit left on the vine for too lengthy sucks vitality away from the plant. As a substitute of devoting sources towards creating new fruit, the tomato plant will attempt to funnel its vitality towards seed manufacturing inside an overripe fruit.
Harvest them as quickly as your tomatoes flip the specified coloration (blush pink, darkish purple, vivid orange, or vibrant pink, relying on the variability). I sometimes examine my tomato vegetation for ripe tomatoes each 2-3 days.
Any time you notice a broken, rotten, or overripe tomato, take away it ASAP. If it’s not diseased, compost it or feed it to your chickens. If there are any indicators of pests or illnesses, throw them within the trash. Keep away from leaving leftover fruits to rot in your beds, as they’ll grow to be a harbor for future infestations.
7. Prune Properly
Pruning is essential for wholesome, long-lasting tomatoes. After all, an unpruned plant will develop wild and yield loads of fruits, however it’s unlikely to final till autumn. Don’t skimp on pruning if you wish to maximize tomato manufacturing, notably in a small area!
Most indeterminate varieties do greatest with a single or double-leader setup. This implies you select a central vine (or two) and take away all lateral branches. These lateral stems (“suckers”) are likely to suck the vitality away from fruit manufacturing in an try to ramble far and extensive. We’re clearly rising tomatoes for the fruit reasonably than the vines, so eradicating these suckers could make a world of distinction.
Use sharp, sanitized pruners to chop suckers within the “elbow ditch” the place the facet vines intersect with the primary one. All the time clear up trimmings to stop illness points. On the finish of the season, you might take away any decrease leaves which might be beginning to wither or die. Nevertheless, the plant nonetheless wants its foliage to photosynthesize, so keep away from pruning greater than two-thirds of its leaves at any given time.
8. Maintain Vegetation Heat
Tomatoes cease ripening at round 55°F and drop flowers when temperatures attain 50°F or decrease. If the nights begin to cool and you continue to have a lot of unripe fruit or flowers in your vegetation, you possibly can make use of season extension strategies to create a microclimate of heat.
Row cowl or frost blankets are the simplest to drape over massive, mature vegetation. In spite of everything, bees now not want to succeed in them for pollination. Safe row materials with clamps or sandbags across the edges, and make sure they aren’t so tight that they harm the vines or dangling clusters.
If you’re lucky sufficient to have a greenhouse, low tunnel, or massive chilly body, safe it through the afternoon to seize as a lot photo voltaic warmth as potential. This might help ripen straggler tomatoes and even encourage just a few extra flowers to fruit.
When rising in pots, transfer your tomatoes indoors at night time and put them again on a sunny porch within the morning. This may delay your harvest for no less than a few weeks within the chilly autumn.
A dense layer of mulch on the base of vegetation can shield the roots from chilly nights and offer you an additional week or so of manufacturing.
9. Pull the Partially Crimson Tomatoes
When frost is inevitably on the horizon, you possibly can harvest partially ripe fruits as a final resort. Whereas vine-ripened tomatoes have superior taste and texture, partially pink (or pink or orange) fruits may have a greater probability at ripening within the chilly than their totally inexperienced counterparts. Harvesting the partially ripe tomatoes indicators the plant to ripen the remaining inexperienced fruits if the climate permits.
To ripen tomatoes indoors, place them in a paper bag or cardboard field in your countertop. Retaining a bunch of bananas close by encourages ethylene manufacturing, a plant hormone that promotes ripening.
The flavour is probably not as nice as vine-ripened fruits, however it’s definitely higher than the grocery retailer! You possibly can at all times make salsa verde or fried inexperienced tomatoes as a final resort!
Benefit from the longest tomato season potential by planting indeterminate, long-season varieties, common pruning, and constant harvesting all through the summer season. Follow succession sowing to stagger your plantings and permit for later maturity. When autumn arrives, in the reduction of on water and shield your vegetation with row cowl and mulch to ripen the remaining fruits.