How to Get Tomatoes to Ripen Early

What You'll Need
Newspaper sheets
Cool, dark corner in the house
Plastic trays
Cardboard box
Dry cloth
Wooden drawer

Tomatoes are amongst the most commonly grown vegetables in household gardens. Green-colored tomatoes don’t have the flavor of ripe, red tomatoes. You might not know that tomatoes can be ripened faster, through simple, manipulative techniques. You can ripen tomatoes indoors or outdoors. Faster ripening is often needed if an early or extended frosty, winter season is predicted.

Indoor, Early Ripening Instructions

You will need to harvest the raw, green tomatoes and bring them inside. While picking the tomatoes, ensure that you don’t pull them too hard. Place them softly in a basket. Young tomatoes are easily bruised. The indoor, ripening process is rather simple and can be easily done with basic, household supplies.

Preparing Tomatoes

Ensure that each tomato is dry. Wipe the tomatoes with a dry cloth. You should remove tomatoes that seem puffed-up or have substantial bruising. Wrap each of the tomatoes in newspaper sheets.

Preparing Ripening Tray

Arrange the tomatoes on the plastic tray. Place the slightly ripened tomatoes along the outer edge of the tray since they need less ripening. Tomatoes placed in the center will ripen much quicker. If you don’t have a plastic tray, a cardboard box can be used. However, metallic containers should be avoided since they don’t insulate sufficiently. Try not to create too many layers within the chosen container as this makes it difficult to check upon the ripening process.

Arranging Tray

Place the tray/box in the chosen room. The site should be away from direct sunlight and have minimal ventilation. Ideally, the entire room should not be used for a few days to facilitate the ripening process. If you don’t have a secluded spot in the house, try placing the trays in a large drawer.

Systematic Selection

It is crucial that you systematically, unwrap and check each tomato. You should follow a weekly, inspection regimen. This helps to detect any decay that is common to indoor ripening. Keep removing the ripened and decayed tomatoes.

Outdoor, Early Ripening Instructions

For outdoor ripening, some degree of gardening expertise is needed. This is done by root-pruning the tomato vine. Here, tomatoes are not prematurely harvested but the vine is manipulated to stimulate faster ripening. Root pruning can be done nearly 2 to 3 times in a season. Root pruning is essentially a gardening trick that can be done by following these instructions.

Plant Selection

Select tomato plants that have substantial number of green tomato clusters. Ideally, the plant should have at least four clusters.

Root Pruning

Using a spade, make cuts in the soil bed, near the main stem of the plant. Ensure that these cuts are made at least 2 inches away from the stem. Each cut should be about 8 inches deep. Using a shovel, dig-out some soil from the cut-marks to widen them. If you want to speed-up the ripening process even more, try to modify the cut mark in the shape of a semi-circle, encircling the stem.

How does root pruning work?

The trenching around the plant creates extreme stress on the plant. The upper, root tips start reacting to the pruning shock. The plant’s growth mechanism goes into hyper-drive, quickening the ripening process. This technique is safe and does not harm the plant. Just ensure that you wait for at least a month before pruning again.