It’s time to prune your tomatoes if you live in Zone 5 and almost time in Zone 6. Sure there are great recipes (and movies) for fried green tomatoes, but you and I both know we much prefer red tomatoes ripened by the sun. So it’s time to take your pruners out to the garden. We now officially accept that tomato season is almost over, so we’re going to prune off the top of the tomato plant…even the cute yellow flowers that would make tomatoes if frost didn’t descend upon us. It’s going to feel brutal, but you need to cut off leaves that are shading the green tomatoes from the sun.
But if your average FIRST frost is about a month away and you notice that nighttime temperatures are a bit cool, you want to make sure that all those green tomatoes are getting sunlight. And you want the plant to focus all its energy ripening the green tomatoes currently on the vine and filling them with the sugar that makes a red tomato (or black or yellow or orange if you grew those) so yummy.
One more late summer tomato task. Taste test your own tomatoes. We pick the varieties we grow because we liked the picture in the catalog or because a friend told us we just HAD to grow a certain heirloom. Now you can decide. Make a note of the tastiest varieties in your journal or put it on next January’s calendar for seed ordering time. Make a note too of which tomatoes got too many diseases or did poorly in your conditions. Some tomatoes will grow better and taste better in your garden than others. Your job as a tomato grower is to get a little better each year and have even more and better tomatoes next year!