If you’ve ever had fried green tomatoes, then you already know that these tangy fruits are perfect for frying without turning to mush, and they are also ideal candidates for pickling. Not only that, but these veggies are easy to grow at home. We show you how to grow green tomatoes by starting them from seeds and transplanting them outdoors.
There are many tomato varieties, and believe it or not, some of them are green. Most ripe tomatoes, such as the traditional beefsteak and cherry tomato, are often red when ripe. However, the ripe fruit of a green tomato plant is actually green.
While they appear as if they aren’t ready for picking, the green fruit of these plants is just as delicious and sweet as your everyday red tomatoes.
What if you cannot find any green tomato plants in your area? No problem. It’s still possible to harvest green tomatoes from other tomato cultivars.
- Ways to Grow Green Tomatoes at Home
- When are Green Tomatoes in Season?
- Things to Know before Growing Green Tomatoes
- How to Grow Green Tomatoes from Seed
- Transplanting Green Tomato Seedlings in the Garden or Container
- How to Care for Your Green Tomatoes
- Problems to Watch for While Growing Green Tomatoes
- Harvesting and Storing Green Tomatoes
Ways to Grow Green Tomatoes at Home
Tomato gardening is both simple and rewarding, even if you lack the proverbial green thumb. Here is how to start your tomatoes from seed, transplant them outside in a container or garden, and give them the care they require to produce tasty green fruits.
When are Green Tomatoes in Season?
The time all growers look forward to when planting a vegetable garden is the harvest. This is the time of year when we get to pluck ripe fruits and veggies straight from the plant for the dinner table. So, when are green tomatoes in season?
What are green tomatoes? There are two forms of green tomatoes, ripe and unripe tomatoes. An unripe red tomato seems inedible, but these tomatoes are almost as delicious as the ripe varieties.
While their texture is more firm and they are not as sweet, they are perfect for frying and pickling and are in season right before they turn red.
There are other types, such as the Green Zebra or Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato, that do not turn red and are fully ripe when green.
These varieties are often heirloom tomatoes and are in season, usually three months after planting, depending on the type.
Things to Know before Growing Green Tomatoes
Before growing green tomatoes, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you are getting into. While these plants are simple to grow, they desire the right amount of sunshine, food, and water to thrive.
Growing Green Tomatoes
Tomato seeds need a consistent temperature of 68 to 80°F to germinate. They take one to two weeks to sprout, and it’s time to transplant them in a pot or garden after the last frost, once they grow to about three or four inches tall.
Tomato plants want nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. If your soil is lacking, consider adding compost to the top layer to enrich it. They are a warm-season crop that requires a minimum of six hours of full sun each day.
Finally, it’s important to provide your tomatoes with support as they grow, whether they are determinate or indeterminate varieties.
As the plants grow tall and begin fruiting, they become top-heavy, and placing a tomato cage around them or providing them with a trellis prevents the branches from snapping.
How to Grow Green Tomatoes from Seed
It’s always a great idea to start seeds indoors, no matter which type of plant you are growing. This is especially true if you live in a northern region where temperatures are colder and the season is shorter.
The seed planting method is the same, whether you plant red or green tomatoes, as well as when you grow cherry tomatoes from seed. Fill a seed starting tray with potting mix and use your finger or the end of a pencil to make a quarter-inch deep hole in each section.
Drop a couple of seeds into each spot and cover them with soil. Lightly pat down the dirt and spray the surface with water until it’s damp.
Set the tray in a sunny windowsill and spray it with water daily to keep it slightly moist but not wet. Plants grow toward the sun, so rotate the tray every day to help them grow upright.
Transplanting Green Tomato Seedlings in the Garden or Container
When are green tomatoes in season, and do they grow in containers? It all depends on where you live and whether you start your plants from seed. Here is how to transplant your tomato seedlings into the garden or the best ways of growing tomatoes in pots.
Before transplanting tomatoes outside, it’s vital to acclimate them by moving them outdoors each day for a week to adjust to the weather.
Dig a hole in the garden bed or plant tomatoes around a bucket that is a couple of inches bigger than the seedling base. Remove the small plant from its original pot, loosen the roots gently before placing it into the hole, and plant it deeply to encourage healthy root growth.
Spread an inch of mulch over the soil and water around each plant’s base to help them settle into the dirt.
If you’re container gardening, make sure to position your pots in an area of the porch or patio where they receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Set a tomato cage over your plants to give them support before they grow too large.
How to Care for Your Green Tomatoes
There are certain things your plants crave when growing green tomatoes. They need the right amount of care to grow healthy plants and produce an abundance of ripe tomatoes.
Tomato plants want consistent moisture to flourish, so do not allow them to dry out. Water them at the base once the top inch or two of soil is dry.
Spreading an inch of mulch over the garden or in a container is useful for preventing weeds and retaining moisture.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require a well-balanced fertilizer with potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, especially if your soil is not rich. Feed them right after planting them in the garden or pot, when they set fruit, and once every two weeks after that.
Problems to Watch for While Growing Green Tomatoes
Even though you give your tomato plants all the attention and care they need, there are times when you encounter unforeseen problems. Here are a few common issues these plants contend with and ways to cure them.
The most common problem with tomatoes is blossom end rot. This is when the fruit bottom has a brown, rotten-looking circle and is the result of low calcium in the soil.
They are still safe to eat by slicing off the damaged portion. To remedy the problem, try adding eggshells to the dirt.
Other issues to deal with are insects. The two most common tomato pests are cutworms and tomato hornworms. Cutworms are small, green worms that munch on tomato leaves and hide beneath the foliage.
Hornworms are large, green caterpillars that destroy entire plants if left alone. Remove these pests by hand as soon as you spot them and prune damaged foliage and leaves.
Harvesting and Storing Green Tomatoes
The end of the growing season has finally arrived, and we’re talking harvest time. You waited all season for this moment, and you now get to start plucking fresh tomatoes for your kitchen.
Here is what you need to know about harvesting tomatoes and ways to store green tomatoes short and long term.
If your tomato plants are true green tomatoes, they are ready for harvest anywhere from 70 to 90 days after planting. Do you know when to pick green tomatoes? Wait to pick them until they are full size, firm, and heavy on the branch for the perfect ripeness.
For the red varieties, pick them when they are still green and firm. All different types of tomatoes taste best when you store them at room temperature. However, it’s safe to keep them in the fridge if you feel they are getting too ripe.
If you harvest too many green tomatoes at once, and cannot eat them before they spoil, consider slicing and pickling them for longer storage time or learn how to can green tomatoes for almost indefinite preservation.
If your green tomatoes are unripe red tomatoes and you decide to eat them after they turn red, ripen green tomatoes by placing them in a paper bag or a cardboard box.
Tomatoes release ethylene gas, and trapping the gas in this manner speeds up the ripening process.
Vegetable gardening is not only an excellent way to spend time outdoors, but you get to reap the benefits of your determined work with baskets full of bell peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and other tomato fruits.
The hardest part about growing green tomatoes is deciding how you plan on preparing them after the harvest.
We hope that learning how to grow green tomatoes at home fills your kitchen with tasty fruits for frying and pickling at the end of the season, and we’d love it if you’d share our green tomato growing guide with the veggie-lovers in your life on Facebook and Pinterest.