The star of the show. This future mitochondrial tomato was picked from our basement at the end of NovemberThe star of the show. This future mitochondrial tomato was picked from our basement at the end of November
Pick me! Pick me!Pick me! Pick me!
Ripening slowly on the vineRipening slowly on the vine
These are all the tomatoes that we either picked because they were somewhat ripe, or fell off in the process of dragging them inside.These are all the tomatoes that we either picked because they were somewhat ripe, or fell off in the process of dragging them inside.
A lot o' green tomatersA lot o' green tomaters
Stacking the panels on top of each otherStacking the panels on top of each other
Bringing in the first row of cattle panelBringing in the first row of cattle panel
Tomatoes fresh from our basement on November 21Tomatoes fresh from our basement on November 21
  • The star of the show. This future mitochondrial tomato was picked from our basement at the end of November
  • Pick me! Pick me!
  • Ripening slowly on the vine
  • These are all the tomatoes that we either picked because they were somewhat ripe, or fell off in the process of dragging them inside.
  • A lot o' green tomaters
  • Stacking the panels on top of each other
  • Bringing in the first row of cattle panel
  • Tomatoes fresh from our basement on November 21

Back in October our first frost was looming and I still had pounds and pounds of green tomatoes on my plants. Not wanting them to go to waste (especially because I’m keeping track of my total yield in pounds), I had to figure out a way to either protect them or preserve them.

I researched my options and this is what I found. When facing a green tomato vs. Jack Frost scenario, you can either:

a) Protect the plants in the garden by throwing sheets, blankets or plastic over them and hope they live to fight another day

b) Pick all the green fruit, store them inside and hope they ripen gradually and don’t rot, or use them in a green tomato recipe (salsa, relish, etc.)

c) Chop the plants down and bring them inside to a protected place (like a barn) and hang them upside down to let the fruit ripen gradually

Our first frost ended up being a hard freeze, so I’m glad I didn’t choose option a). I was also in a situation where I really needed the space that the tomatoes were occupying so I could start my fall crops, and so I chose option c). It was a gamble, but if it worked I would save pounds and pounds of tomatoes from certain death.

It worked.

We’d been growing the tomatoes in cattle panels, so we chopped the tomatoes down at ground level and brought the whole panel inside. We don’t have a barn, but we do have an unfinished basement. We stacked the panels on top of each other and left the plants to their own devices. That was October 28.

It’s now the middle of December and I still have fresh tomatoes. We have snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures, and I still have fresh tomatoes. A few days ago I made spaghetti for dinner and made homemade pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes. That is pretty stinking awesome.

I’m not saying that these are fresh-from-the-summer-garden quality tomatoes. But then you wouldn’t find that at the grocery store either. After all, these were brought in green, much before their prime.

I do, though, think that having my own homegrown, beyond organic tomatoes that I can use to make “value-added” tomato products in December is something worth celebrating.

Here’s to tomatoes in winter!

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