We've had a hard enough frost to blacken the vines of the tomatoes and squash. Because of the repeated, late starts, most of our crop hadn't ripened yet. This is about four times as many tomatoes as we've had ripen on the vine this year.
As is evident in the raised bed that can be seen in the yard, the beets and carrots are still trucking. The tomatoes used to be within the squirrel-impeding wire enclosures directly behind them.
Next things to figure out:
- What to do with green tomatoes. I did read about hanging them upside down while still on the vines, but I walked around the house carrying the vines for about five minutes and couldn't find a good place to accomplish that task, so they went on the windowsill instead.
- Whether or not something I remember having read about not putting tomato vines into the compost should be a factor here, and if it should, what to do with the poor, wilted former-greenery, currently sitting on the deck awaiting a decision.
At least it feels like we are clearing space for next year's go at having a garden.
Susan J. Tweit
Tomato vines are fine in compost as long as there’s plenty of other stuff to mix in with them. You just don’t want them to dominate the pile. As for what to do with the green tomatoes, I sort them by relative ripeness and put them in brown paper bag or a box with a lid on it, and set them somehwere out of the sun and not too warm. (Mine sit on the top of the dryer in the laundry room–we rarely use the dryer for long so it doesn’t get warm, but it’s a flat spot that’s vacant and dark.) Check them every few days and take out the ripe ones, or any that show signs of rotting. We eat fresh tomatoes until December this way!
The woman who runs our neighborhood CSA says, put them in a paper bag with an apple. Apples release ethylene, which causes the tomatoes to ripen quicker.
Of course, my mother would say, “fry ’em!”
If you want to eat the green tomatoes without ripening, Storey has a great pamphlet with a ton of recipes for green tomatoes. Besides frying them, my second favorite is a green tomato/apple pie (half and half) but Jeff hated it! Pickling is also good…but let them ripen (as explained thoroughly above!) and you’ll enjoy them later on.
Regarding tomato vines, I don’t compost them…I throw ’em out. The occasional diseases in vines can spread via compost and then your tomatoes may be disease-ridden next year. I don’t know exactly how hot the compost needs to be (or how cold the temps) to kill those diseases, as we had a terrible time with them in the South.
Susan J Tweit
Joanne, One of the benefits of living in the very cold, high-elevation, and often arid West is that the viruses and fungi that torment tomato vines elsewhere aren’t a problem here. The high elevation means plenty of killing UV radiation, which really helps in “cooking” disease organisms in compost piles…. (Of course, it gives we humans skin cancer too, proving the adage of a two-edged sword!)