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Yikes, it seems I took an inadvertent break last week (and, um, half of this week). Sorry about that; it turns out that the “end of summer” (somebody else’s term that I refuse to use) is an awfully busy time. On top of all sorts of things going on a work, an event I’ve been helping organize (that ended up not happening because of weather), a family picnic and more, I spent a good part of last weekend painting a wall at the office that desperately needed it (over wallpaper, gasp!) and Mr. Much More Patient and I did a massive cleanup around the house. Few things in this world bring the kind of pleasure provided by a pressure washer. The exterior of our house and the deck are gleaming!

First off, I have to announce the winner of the set of Troy-Bilt garden tools! And that lucky person is Mary M. Congrats, Mary, check your email!

Onto a bit of gardening. Whether I (or you) like it or not, summer is drawing to a close. We can hope that it is a very slow close, but it’s time to start cutting my losses on the tomatoes, which have not been great again this year.

I’ve grown entirely heirloom varieties for several years and I think I’m going to change that up next year. I need better and earlier production. Let’s be honest, there is probably nothing better than a deliciously ripe heirloom tomato, but ANY home grown tomato is better than the imposters they sell at the grocery store. I guess I’d rather have more home-grown tomatoes that taste pretty damn good than a handful of tomatoes that taste amazing.

Regardless of the kind of tomatoes you grow, you can follow the same steps to make the most of the end of season fruit. And the trick is to be relentless.

My tomato vines are pretty well stocked with tomatoes, but they are very, very green. So I need those vines to focus all their energy on ripening the tomatoes that are there, rather than making more tomatoes. So the first thing I did was to cut off the vine above the top of the highest branch with fruit on it. Just chop that sucker clean off.

Then it’s time to get really brutal. Tomatoes don’t need leaves on the plant to ripen. What they need is the most sun they can possibly get, so I went through and cut off most of the leaves to really open up the vines.

When you’re trimming, you have to be really careful because it’s easy to accidentally snip off a branch with fruit on it. I also try to keep the branches off the ground because the slugs are getting relentless and it is really disgusting to cut into a tomato and find a slug staring back at you.

I know it’s hard, but the goal now is to get those babies to ripen. The world only needs so many green tomatoes.

One Response

  1. I've been stripping my vines for several years now, to great effect. We had stunning heat last week, which was great for ripening – it's now in the 60s for a few days so I'm taking my redder ones off the vine to finish ripening indoors. That heat really bumped my peppers, too. Ihave a great haul of Scorpions and if I get one more flush of heat (next week) I should have some gorgeous Naga Vipers. The incessant rain took out my jalaps so the Nagas and Scorpions are my best hope for heat!


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