Tend to your Tomatoes

While there’s still warmth in the autumn sunshine, you should tend to your tomatoes.

You still have a couple of weeks before you run out of time and the autumn frosts take hold. Even in good summers, it’s a lucky gardener who ripens every tomato perfectly – but with quick action now you can increase your red tomato quota considerably.

Early on, start removing any large leaves which are shading your fruit (don’t overdo this though, or you’ll reduce their ability to feed themselves).

Then ripen as many fruits on the vine as possible by turning up the warmth and sunlight as much as is reasonably possible. A greenhouse heater works wonders, or you can try a cloche if you have one of a suitable size.

Unhitch your tomatoes carefully from their supports and lay stem and branches along a piece of black weed-suppressing fabric on the greenhouse floor. Cover the trusses with a cloche to double the sun’s power. The black membrane also absorbs heat to release it through the night.

If frost is forecast, gently pull up the whole tomato plant and hang it upside down from the roof in a frost-free shed, garage or conservatory. The warmth should keep the tomatoes ripening long after the greenhouse has emptied for winter.