Blue Canary
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Will a branch survive if it's flipped upside down?

Our tomato plants long ago outgrew the measly cages we put them in, and have since taken over our entire herb garden and started spreading through the fence into our neighbor's garden as well. When it became apparent that our neighbor was eyeing the tomatoes on their side a little too keenly, we decided it was time to stake up the sprawling limbs.

The thing is, the plants grew well established in their chaos. Their limbs have interwoven to the point where you can barely discern the origin plant, and untangling them revealed a different problem: if we staked the branch up, it would be upside down. That is, the undersides of the leaves would be exposed to the sun, and the weight of the tomatoes on that branch would be resting back onto its stem. Can the branch/tomatoes survive this way? Or will all the leaves burn and the tomato fall off under its own weight?

TZ -OH6
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The leaves will be OK, but the shift in the weight of the tomatoes may cause them to tear away from the plant. You can use some twine tied off of something to reinforce the trusses.

Blue Canary
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Ah, good idea! I'll do that in the morning.

I'm glad to hear that the leaves won't be damaged by the exposure. The upside to their current state is that I'm now able to find all the nasty little egg clusters that were hiding beneath them before. I found one hornworm egg and what appeared to be a cluster of fruitworms, so I imagine there are more...

tedln
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My tomatoes outgrew their cages (seven feet tall) a long time ago. They started hanging over the sides and growing down like a topsy turvy planter. Since my dog also likes ripe and green tomatoes, I had to keep them from hanging over the garden fence. I just grabbed the tangles of branches and piled them on top of the cages. I don't know why. but Donald Trump comes to mind every time I look at my tomato cages with the branches piled on top.

Ted
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rainbowgardener
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Yeah I have only 5 foot cages, but 5 of them close together. So as soon as the tomato branches are getting near the top or over the top, I start training them horizontally so that they are then supported by the neighboring cage. I ended up with a whole canopy of tomato branches across the top of the bed, but it seemed to work out ok.

Tomatoes are done now though, between the drought and the cold nights were are having... I pulled them. I would imagine in Maryland you don't have too much longer for tomatoes either.
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Blue Canary
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Tomatoes are done now though, between the drought and the cold nights were are having... I pulled them. I would imagine in Maryland you don't have too much longer for tomatoes either.
We've been caught in a hot streak for a while now, (It's 90 degrees here as I speak) but if it's anything like last year the warm weather will peter out by October. I'm a little sad because we've got tons of green tomatoes on the branches, but I'm sure few, if any, ripen in time.

I was reading somewhere else about a woman who defoliated her plants at the end of the season to put all their energy into ripening fruit. That sounds a bit harsh, but I wonder if it would work.

tedln
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Defoliating works as does using a sharp garden shovel or spade to pierce the ground around the base of the plants about 12" out from the plants. By cutting a lot of the fine roots around the plant, but not enough to kill it immediately, it forces the plant to ripen the tomatoes.

Ted
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rainbowgardener
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Whenever you give up on the plants, pick all the green tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen up. In my experience even the ones picked small and green will eventually ripen. Will they be as good as the really vine-ripened ones? No, but still better than store bought.
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tedln
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Normally, in my part of the country; the first frost or freeze of the season is forecast for the evening hours. I usually pick the larger green tomatoes still on the vine before sundown and store them. They ripen slowly in a cool, dry environment and are very good. I've eaten and served green picked tomatoes at Christmas dinner. They were fully ripe and tasted great. It seems helpful to pack some newspaper wadded around and separating the tomatoes. The newspaper absorbs moisture and protects the tomatoes from bruising against the other tomatoes. If one or more tomatoes happen to start rotting before ripening, the separation with newspaper also helps prevent the rot from spreading to the other tomatoes. If you want a couple of tomatoes for tomorrows dinner, pull a couple of the larger green tomatoes from the storage box, set them in the kitchen window sill or on the counter and they will usually ripen in a day or two.

I don't always pick at the first frost forecast. If the temps will only drop into the light frost or freeze range for a few hours, I drape frost protection blankets over the tomato plants. It usually gives me another week or ten days before the first hard, extended freeze occurs.

Ted
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