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When to focus on ripening tomatoes?

Sorry to ask yet another tomato question.

When do people tend to switch from feeding/watering to ripening for their cordon tomatoes?

I’ve got some Black Russians, money maker and Alicante. All have grow nicely. I’ve pinch out the tops after the 4th or 5th truss. The lower trusses are full of lovely large toms, but the top ones are still small with a couple of new flowers.

I’ve been watering daily in the heat and feeding once a week. I’ve started to cut back the lower foliage to get air to the lower fruit. No sign of ripening yet.

I know to encourage ripening you should cut back on watering and feeding but that would likely mean the upper trusses won’t develop.

I’m really scared that we’ll get a massive downpour and some of the toms will split or disease may set in before they ripen.

At what point you I cut off the upper flowers and small fruit and focus on ripening the lower ones.

Thanks in advance.

Before someone says it, I know my plants are too close together. I don’t have much space so I pack them in. They don’t seem to mind.


  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 4,828
    They are looking good Womble54,. mine have been sat for three weeks looking like they are ready to ripen. Nice sized Tom's will suddenly start to look yellow in colour less dark green and then it can take days before they turn to the ripe colour. It is still early for outside Tom's to be ripe yet in London,  I don't consider them late until after the last week in July in the greenhouse so it's later than that outside. Just leave them as they are, no more reducing leaves ,water well and keep feeding they will get there.😁
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,673
    Can't help with the question, but they do not look too close together to me, have a look at pictures of commercial greenhouses, just that close! I must be strange, I have tomatoes in two pollytunnels and I never fertilise them once!
  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 4,828
    The distance between plants is to stop sooty mould forming by giving a good circulation of air around plants. Also enough room for root growth when in the ground.  As you can see Womble54 has achieved this by removing overlapping leaves( which is something not all growers do) I too remove leaves that get in the way of watering. This year I am experimenting with leaf removal half I remove as usual, and the others mostly left on( only damaged ones removed) to see what difference it will make.
  • Womble54Womble54 Posts: 348
    Thank you. I’ll wait it out and keep feeding. Patience isn’t one of my virtues.

    The advice on the seed packets is to have the plants 45cm apart. Mine are more like 25cm.

    I prune off the lower leaves below the first truss quite early on to make watering easier. Then prune off more lower foliage as the lower tomatoes get to a decent size. I know pruning foliage is a controversial topic, but it seems to work for me.

    Now just to wait for them to ripen!  :/
  • Womble54Womble54 Posts: 348
    Skandi, you must have amazing soil if you don’t need to feed your toms.
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,673
    Don't know if I don't "need" too but I never do. This picture is today of some Tigrella toms in one of the pollytunnels. they are growing on old lawn which was turned over under them, the lawn has never been fertilised or weedkilled. And now I look I can see that one of the trusses is growing a sucker.. back out with the pruners I go. (the curled leaves are due to it getting WAY too hot in there a few times.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,027
    They don't actually need a lot of feeding. Most people overfeed. I always thought they needed fed regularly, until our resident tomato expert [Italophile] said no, not necessary. I have as many toms on plants now with minimal feed, than I had when I fed every couple of weeks   :)
    Mine get one when they set the first truss of fruit, and one a bit later on . Grown in pots, under cover.

    They ripen by themselves. The only issue can be later in the season if fruits are setting and they're running out of time to ripen in the location thye're in. There's a finite amount of time for them to grow, flower and produce their fruit. You just remove any green ones and bring them indoors and let them ripen that way - or use them green in chutneys etc. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ZeroZero1ZeroZero1 Posts: 577


    I have heard that a tomato is ready to pick when the bottom of the tomato starts to turn pink. i have also heard the flavour improves if left on the bush. Looking at the weather forecast not too many worries about rain. Even with a couple of thunderstorms it will tak a while before the soil gets really soft and wet again. 

    Not sure about stopping/ reducing watering at any time
  • Womble54Womble54 Posts: 348
    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    My neighbour asked me to water her tomatoes while she’s away. It looks like she’s just dug some holes in her lawn and chucked some tomatoes in. Doesn’t look like she’s used any compost. And they look like they’re doing ok.

    Perhaps I’m overthinking things a bit!

  • Fif2Fif2 Posts: 69
    I don't feed my tomatoes - I put them in the ground, water every few days and let them do their thing.  I usually end up with quite a jungle but I always have lots of tomatoes so I'm happy.
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