Red and green tomatoes, August 2021

Growing Tomatoes, Part 4

After nurturing the seedlings and young plants, potting out, eluding both early and late blight, and lots of watering, it’s time for the reward–vine-ripened tomatoes.

Green tomatoes, August 2021

Some gardeners adopt a practice I gather is used in commercial greenhouses–removing all or most of the foliage from the tomato plants once they’ve set enough fruit. The thinking is there is no further purpose for the leaves, and some of them may be yellowing, so off they come. I’ve never done this. At this stage I do cut the tops off the plants because there’s no point in encouraging them to bloom and set new fruits that will never amount to much before season’s end. I may clip off leaves that are shading fruit clusters, but that’s about it. And I reduce watering to every other day instead of daily. More about the foliage removal issue may be found HERE.

Red, orange, and green tomatoes, August 2021

Then it’s just a matter of harvesting the tomatoes as they ripen. If cold and rain arrive while there are still green tomatoes, I pick them all and ripen them in the house. I wash the green tomatoes in soapy water, rinse and let them dry, and then set them out on trays and keep an eye on them. I’ve had home grown tomatoes as late as Christmas time using this technique.

Red tomatoes, August 2021

If I have enough red tomatoes at once, I make salsa. Here is how I do it: Cut up 4, 6, 8, or however many tomatoes you have for the purpose. I chop them up quite finely because I don’t remove the skins. Put tomatoes in a pot and add one finely chopped nectarine. Simmer on medium heat, uncovered, until the consistency suits you. In the meantime, mince an onion and several garlic cloves, as well as whatever kind of hot pepper you prefer. Including the pepper seeds increases the hotness, so discard them if you prefer a mild salsa. Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper in olive oil until limp but not browned and add to the tomato mixture in the pot. Add a teaspoon or so of salt and simmer until it looks right. If you like cilantro, chop up a handful and add it after removing the salsa from the stove. Allow to cool, and enjoy with whatever type of corn chip you prefer. Keeps well in the fridge (but that’s not usually an issue).

Notes: I prefer a cooked salsa to uncooked. The texture is better and the flavours blend together more thoroughly than if left raw. Adding the nectarine was something I tried on impulse a couple of years ago. It improves the flavour, in my opinion, but it is optional. Finally, I have nothing against cilantro, but don’t usually have any on hand, so it’s optional for me.

Other posts in this series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


  1. I love homegrown tomatoes, as they usually taste so much better than shop-bought. Unfortunately, I have never had much luck growing them myself, maybe I will try again next year. I heard a rumour that tomatoes are toxic for arthritis, have you heard that?

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    1. I have heard that plants of the so-called “nightshade family” (Solanaceae) are supposed to promote inflammation or otherwise exacerbate arthritis. I don’t know if that’s true or not; certainly not from personal experience.


  2. Our tomatoes are yielding a good result this year, I’m happy to say. (Last year, they had a rather bitter taste to them.) I made a big batch of cooked salsa yesterday. I’ve started putting in fresh pineapple.

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  3. Now all I need is a margarita to accompany this fine salsa and chips. We’ve been making heirloom tomato and cheese sandwiches this summer. We think that the heirloom tomatoes ratchet up the great summer taste to the next level.

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    1. Yes, the plants have that earthy aroma, and a little of it is carried into the tomatoes themselves. Did you know tomatoes are in the same plant family as tobacco? Makes you think.


  4. Beautiful tomatoes, Audrey. Because of the intense heat this year, I was able to grow tomatoes for the first time. I got about a dozen ripe cherry tomatoes and ate them off the vine. 🙂 My growing season here is just too short and too cold. I found the one positive thing about a heat dome.

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    1. Thanks, Diana. You folks must live at a higher elevation than we do. We’re just a little above sea level here. My problem is a thin sandy soil infested with maple tree roots, which is why I grow my tomatoes in pots placed on the driveway. Cherry tomatoes are great, though, especially right off the vine, warm from the sun with a sprinkle of salt.

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  5. Cooked salsa? Sacrilege. You’re just making soup.

    A mango, diced. A dash of cumin. Lots of black pepper. A squeeze of lime. Sweet onion. All raw of course, macerating in the fridge for a few hours, or days.

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  6. That’s a great crop, Ma’am. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the tips. My first lot of local heirloom tomatoes has just started ripening. I was about to trim the tops, but a second bloom has already started showing tiny fruit and I don’t have the heart to chop them off now.

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          1. Yes, Ma’am! 😊
            Unfortunately, I have limited space of about 1 ft x 8 ft in a high-rise apartment; hence I am presently learning through experimentation on growing as many veggies as possible through rotation, and the associated aches and pains.

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  7. Your tomatoes look perfect, Audrey. I’ve given up growing them because I can’t deal with the inevitable disappointment of late blight. Luckily, I live in a farming valley, so there are plenty of local, fresh tomatoes at the farm stand. Your salsa recipe sounds intriguing… I’d never heard of using a nectarine before.

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    1. At least you do have a source of local tomatoes, Eliza. And the nectarine adds an extra fruity quality to go with the acidity of the tomatoes. Someone else mentioned pineapple, which would do the same thing.

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