Pull Tomato Plants?

tenderkat(Z4/5 - 6500 ft)October 4, 2008

Hello Everyone,

This year, I grew my first mountain tomato plants, and they have exceeded my expectations. Due to our short season up here, I have only been able to harvest a few vine-ripened toms so far, but my plants are loaded with great big green ones, many of which appear to be fairly mature. Over the last several weeks, the night time temps have been getting colder and colder, probably down to the mid to upper 40's. I have been successful in my attempts at shielding them from the cold, by covering them at night. Alas, by watching the weather forecast, it appears as though my honeymoon period of moderate fall weather is about to turn, and temps will be falling even more at night. I was thinking that it probably isn't really worth trying to keep my vines warm at night, and that I should probably just pull them up, hang them in the garage, and just let the tomatoes ripen as they will. The forecast is calling for upcoming nighttime temps of upper 30's to lower 40's. Am I right to call it quits on the season? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

just pull them up, hang them in the garage, and just let the tomatoes ripen as they will.

That is what works best for me. Be sure to hang the plant upside down. Good luck.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 1:23PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Do you dig them up with dirt on the rootball, just yank them out of the ground or cut them off at ground level?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 6:14PM
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tenderkat(Z4/5 - 6500 ft)

I did a bit of research prior to my decision on doing this. What I read was to dig a circle around the base, pull out the plant leaving as much of the rootball as possible intact, gently shake off any excess dirt. Then you attach the rope, string, or whatever tie thingy you have at the base of the vine, above the roots. And as digdirt mentioned, hang upside down. I've also heard to trim a bit of the leaves off as well. Someone else, such as digdirt, would probably be able to answer this question with a bit more experience, but this is what I read on some of the county extension sites. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 7:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Whether to pull or dig depends on how planted. In raised beds or mounded beds they are easy to pull up due to the generally less compacted soil. If they don't easily pull up then yes, you may have to dig a bit around the base to loosen them. It isn't necessary to get all the roots or anything. Shake off the soil and tie twine around the base of the plant. Hang upside down from the rafters or such. You can cut off some leafy branches if you wish. Depends on how much room you have. We hang in the barn so don't worry about any pruning.

Don't let them freeze.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 9:09PM
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tenderkat(Z4/5 - 6500 ft)

Dave...........I don't expect you to remember me. Back in June, when I decided to try a garden up here, you responded to a few of my posts. You gave great insight and encouragement, so thankyou. I ended up doing a raised bed, 5x10(I have long arms;), which despite all my beginning worry's, prospered. I plan on tweaking and expanding my garden area each year, with much trial and error (I'm sure). Hopefully, at some point, I will learn how to adapt my gardening techniques to accomodate my climate (and vice versa). I just hope you know, that for this newbie, your calm reassurance encourages me every anxiety riden step I take. So thank you again so much, please keep responding. By the way, I dug up my tomato plants this evening, and with a little prying, they came right out. I was just shocked at how heavy they were! My husband hung them from the weight machine in our garage, unpruned. Finally, our exercise equipment has a purpose!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 12:55AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

tenderkat - Thanks for the kind words. ;) Once you get that first year under your belt it gets easier - if the weather cooperates. Good luck and enjoy your gardening.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 2:16PM
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plant-one-on-me(MI 5b)

I don't have room to hang whole plants so all I do is pick off the tomatoes and place in single layers on newspaper on shelves in the basement. So far they have begun to ripen without problems. Yesterday my 4 year old granddaughter picked my largest mixing bowl full of cherry tomatoes to ripen. I hope to be able to eat them over the next few weeks.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 12:39PM
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I've already picked my green tomatoes off and have done what Kim has done, 3 weeks ago when we had quite cold weather. They are slowly ripening, the Chelsea's taste great, nice 'n juicy, but the roma's are kind of dry and mushy (the tomato is firm and turgid, just the texture of the variety I suppose).

My question is this: Is there a specific reason why the tomato is hung upside down? Does this help with ripening? Or because it can't be hung the other way (of course, it would break). I've read some people will repot it and stick it right side up somewhere warm, to allow the fruit to finish. And must there be some dirt left on the roots?



    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 3:08PM
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Some related questions.

They called a frost advisory for the Front Range tonight, and this weekend we'll have the first freeze. Right now my tomato plants (in containers) are all on the back porch. If we have frost (we may or may not), I'm hoping that will protect them a little. But after that, what would happen if I just put the tomato plant containers in the dark in the garage? Would the tomatoes ripen, or would the plants just die? A green tomato that was knocked off the plant ripened just fine in the house. If I picked all of the green tomatoes off the plants, would they ripen inside? Or would only the bigger full-sized tomatoes ripen?

Another possibility is to put some of them in my plant room, where I have a couple other plants under grow lights, but I don't think I can fit all 12 in there. Some of them are pretty big.

I have a dozen plants, and in total they probably have more than 100 greenies on them. With that number of tomatoes, I don't want to just give up on them and let the frost take them. I want to save as many as I possibly can.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 3:08AM
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Last year I had 30-40 tomato plants in pots. I used a two wheeled hand cart to move them in and out of the garage every morning and evening, to keep them from freezing. I had tomatoes 'til Thanksgiving, here in zone 3A. Once in a while I missed a day and they stayed in the totally dark garage for 48 hrs at a time. They did not flourish but they stayed alive.

However, tomatoes need both heat and sunshine to ripen with any quality. Cold, cloudy, wet days produce mealy, tasteless tomatoes. So some were better than others, depending on the weather that week.

This year I have a 12x20 tent style greenhouse that is getting much better results. I insulated the lower half and heat it with space heaters to keep it between 60-70 degrees at night. But tomatoes still need sunshine. It seems that about two-three days of sunshine, though, is enough to give me summer-tasting tomatoes every week. I am in tomato heaven.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 10:02PM
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irisgirl(Z5 - CO)

Hi All, What a weird and challenging summer for tomato growing here in NE-Colorado! We pretty well finished our harvest during the late afternoons last week having heard the forecast for this weekend. DH was kind enough to go out in the cold yesterday afternoon and pick the last of all the "sizeable" green 'maties. (By sizeable, we mean larger than a golf ball, if it has that nice waxy exterior feel.)

I spent the evening wrapping them singly in small pieces of newspaper and boxing them up in small shipping boxes we saved for this purpose - the idea being to not stack the fruit at all. The boxes are in our semi-heated utility room, labeled as to variety (if I could determine!) and the date stored. We put away 29 pounds...

This method has worked very well for us in past years. The only caveat is that the later ripening fruit does get a bit "mushier" feel to it so we use those for stewing and casseroles.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 2:41AM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

We had our first frost last night, and covered as many plants as we could. Decided that that is too much like work, so today, we'll pick everything that is mostly ripe, then the cherries are getting yanked and hung in the garage (tendercat and digdirt - thanks for the how-to's) and the few slicing tomatoes we have left are going to get pulled and wrapped in newspaper. Oh, how I hate to see it; I am NOT a winter person!!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 1:24PM
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