The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes Planted Late, Protection For

Question: My tomato plants went in late due to the unusualy cold weather. Now I have a lot of green ones & the sun has been scarce. How may I protect my plants from the coming cold weather & frost so that they will ripen? There is no question of running electricity to my garden.

Answer: Your expected frost date should be two months or more from now (sometime in October I would guess); there should be plenty of time for the tomatoes to ripen before then! If you can protect them for the first few cold snap nights, we often have several more weeks of warm weather, too. Temporary protection can consist of covering them with a row cover or frost blanket made expressly for that purpose. Many gardeners devise their own methods of protecting the plants, ranging from covering them with ordinary bed sheets or tarps to erecting a poly house of plastic sheeting and PVC pipe over top the plants. The covers should be removed (or opened up) to avoid heat buildup during the day. When it seems like the weather has truly turned cold, many gardeners will pick the remaining tomatoes so they may continue ripening indoors and/or be turned into green tomato pickles and what have you.

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