Friday, November 18, 2011

Storing Green Tomatoes Before a Hard Freeze So You Can Enjoy the Garden in the Winter

November Garden 167

The summer garden is finally finished. Upper Middle Tennessee experienced a hard freeze this past week and any hopes of keeping warm season flowers and vegetables around for a bit longer were mostly dashed. Of course we all knew it was coming way before it hit. Geez, it's November already so I think the hard freeze was overdue. Prior to the hard freeze I had removed the very tall tomato plants from the garden. Below is a picture of the before removal and then after removal. 


I removed my 'Better Boy' tomato plants so that I could pick all of the green tomatoes prior to the freeze. Removing the tomato plants is a big job that requires pruners and brute strength. It is a job I dread each fall because it is a difficult job. The difficulty comes into play because the plants are over eight feet tall and are interwoven into the concrete reinforcing wire cages. I first have to remove all of the green tomatoes that I can easily reach and find, then the overhanging plant stems, then the cage itself-which is usually wrapped with the remaining stems. Once the cage is on the ground I am able to unwind the tomato vines and toss them all into the compost. This job took me a few hours this fall and I am not sure why because I actually had less tomato plants than in years past. 


The green tomatoes I harvested filled up four brown paper bags. I check the bags pretty much daily since this year the tomatoes are ripening quite fast. Or so it seems. It may just be that since I have so many of them I am getting overwhelmed with ripe tomatoes all at once. Some people store green tomatoes in a cardboard box covered with newspapers. It works just fine too. I just usually use the bags. I store them in my unheated garage. One year I had fresh tomatoes from the bags in January! Of course I must warn you that tomatoes from paper bags stored in your garage do not compare to sun warmed tomatoes picked from the vine....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Fresh tomaotes in Jan! Wow, they must be Yum-O....

    Hope all is going well with all.....

  2. 8 feet!!! Wow, that is fantastic. I knew they grew tall when I was a kid but haven't heard about that since. Of course with your knowledge & abilities it was bound to happen. Something about that Tn soil also. Seems it will grow anything. Love it.

  3. You are right, not quite as good but still much better than spending money for them in a store with God only knows what on them. I had them till the end of January last year but not as many this year. I have about a dozen
    left. :(

    I do use the cardboard boxes just because it is easy to check them each day. I also try not to have more that 2, 3 at the most, layers so I do not get brusing or miss a ripe one.

    If they ripen too quickly you can take them out of the bag or take the newspapers off the boxes. It is the dark that makes them ripen. In fact I just put them in an uncovered box so they can ripen slowly unless I want to stew some up and then I will cover them.

  4. Even if they're not as good as sun-ripened tomatoes, I bet they're much more tasty than those in the supermarket in January. I meant to try this with my green tomatoes, but the first frost over a month ago caught me by surprise. I finally pulled out all my tomato plants this morning and was surprised how strong those roots were--that is a tough job!

  5. Ah. The frugal gardener. I love it. When our boys were growing up and we have maybe 50 tomato plants and doing a lot of canning & preserving, I did the save the green one in the fall. I remember wrapping them individually in newpaper and then storing in the basement. Oh for the good old days. On the other hand now in my retirement.... maybe not! :)

  6. what a wonderful harvest...I missed getting many fall tomatoes due to wilt....

  7. Today was our first snow, but about a month ago we brought in our green tomatoes. The cycle of life - tomato life

  8. Wow! 8 feet of vines. I'm impressed. Two years ago, my tomatoes were grown in pots. Last year, in garden bags (I didn't have a chance to get my beds prepared because of all the rain) and I did not get cages on them in time and so I had vines sprawled all over the ground *sigh*. Next year, I WILL CAGE as soon as they are planted!!! Lesson learned. lol!!!


  9. Great tips. We did the same thing and it is so great to have garden tomatoes in December and January! Here in Middle Tennessee the weather has been so up and down. Thank goodness the freeze didn't hurt my herbs so I am going to harvest the rest of them this week.

  10. Tina, I am so impressed by all your hard work so you can have the wonderful (and very TALL tomato plants!) that yield for you all summer and fall. And then to carefully pick the green ones and store them in paper bags, taking down the plants, so you can have ripe tomatoes for a few more months....I love you telling us about all this. How I would adore having so many plants it took me a couple of hours to take it all down and pick the last of the fruit! Perhaps eventually I will. You inspire me!