Your tomatoes are beautiful and formed but they don't seem to want to ripen?
Here are some explanations of the tomato ripening process and what you can do to maximize your chances of having a mountain of red tomatoes by summer's end.
First of all, it is important to note that each variety of tomato will ripen at its own pace. Some are faster (in days to maturity) and some are slower. Favor early varieties with a short growing season such as the Glacier tomato or the Moskovich tomato that ripen quickly in order to maximize your chances of having good harvests of red tomatoes!
Remember that cherry tomatoes generally mature faster than larger tomatoes. We must not lose hope for the big tomatoes when we see our little cherry tomatoes ripening!
When planting your small plants, pamper them by following our advice by referring to our post on planting tomato plants in the garden.
And then, let's go, let's talk about ripening!
How does a tomato ripen?
A tomato plant must produce lycopene and carotene to ripen its fruit. To do this, the plant must be in an environment that is between 10 and 29 degrees Celsius. A greenhouse that is too hot or autumn that is pointing the tip of its nose in your garden will slow down the ripening of the fruits.
Only a mature tomato will begin to produce ethylene, a chemical compound that ripens fruit. Ethylene allows the plant to begin the process of ripening its mature fruit. It is during this stage that the aroma of its fruits develops and their color begins to change.
So a tomato will start to change color only when it has reached maturity. Even with all the possible and imaginable tricks, the mini tomatoes which have not finished their maturation (immature stage) will not be able to change color perfectly and develop all their aromas.
But how do you recognize a 'mature' tomato?
In the long run, your gardener's lynx eye will easily be able to recognize it, but if you're more at the baby lynx stage, I'll try to explain it to you. But it's really not easy to distinguish because you can't trust the size of the fruit. So, you tell them a dodgy joke and see their responses. So. You know immediately who is immature and who is mature! It would be too convenient. It's subtle as I said, but if you pay attention to it, a mature tomato with a shiny green 'skin', its skin is smooth and very translucent; we often see its small vessels through its skin. While an immature tomato is a bit paler green, its surface is not as shiny and translucent as a mature tomato. Then you have to practice.
What to do before the first frost?
You can cover your plants with thick blankets the first nights of frost, but when daytime temperatures don't usually rise above 15C and it freezes overnight, it's time to harvest the remaining tomatoes on the plants in the garden. .
To ripen your tomatoes indoors, simply pick all the mature green tomatoes on your plants and put them in a fairly warm place (between 15 and 29 degrees Celsius). Contrary to popular belief ( apple or banana in a paper bag, blanket, top of a cupboard, in the dark, in the sun on a window sill, under Grandpa's bed with a hot water bottle, etc.), s f the fruit had finished growing and had reached the ripening stage, your tomatoes will ripen quietly in the warmth, simply placed in a tray on the kitchen table.
Finally, yes, immature tomatoes will eventually change color too, but their texture, range of taste and water content will be much lower than tomatoes that were mature when harvested. It is also possible to cook them in ketchup or by scattering them everywhere in our recipes as we do with zucchini. Concerning our plants in the garden, we cannot escape it, the tomato plants being often indeterminate and our seasons being short, we will always have a few immature tomatoes left on our plants at the end of the beautiful season. But, nothing is ever lost with some good recipes for cooking them: green ketchup, green tomato cake, fried green tomatoes etc.
The best thing to do is to start your season by choosing the best cultivars (varieties) of tomatoes to grow here in the cooler, short-season climate.