Tuesday, February 21, 2012

While Using Your Spring Seed Starting Rack, Keep This Tip in Mind for Fall

It's time for us to get the ol' seed starting rack (aka mini greenhouse) out again and load it up with seeds. Here are some pics from last year:

But while I'm thinking of it, here's a tip for fall, using the same rack.  If you find yourself with lots of green tomatoes still on the vine at first frost (like we did last fall), you can use the rack for ripening your tomatoes.

One way is to in a sunny doorway just like you would for seed starting.

Or you can do what we did and set it up in your basement, away from direct light.  We placed sheets of cardboard on the shelves for added support and to keep small tomatoes from falling through.  You'll not want a lot of light, so cover the entire rack with large trash bags or sheets.  We had some really big plastic bags that people use to discard Christmas trees, so we used those.  They are white, but in the dark basement, they worked well enough.

The idea is to trap natural gasses under the bag to accelerate the ripening process.  It's the same idea as throwing a few tomatoes in a paper bag to ripen, only on a much larger scale.

It worked very well for us.  Every couple of days I would go downstairs, lift the trash bags, and "harvest" a dozen or so of the ripest tomatoes and bring them upstairs to the kitchen table to finish off in the sunlight.  The we just pulled the bag back down and let the green tomatoes continue to ripen.

No, they aren't as sweet and red as vine-ripened tomatoes when you do them this way, but they are still much better-tasting than any tomato you'll buy in a store.

I suggest bookmarking this tip.  I intend to post it again in the fall, but knowing me, it'll slip my mind by then.

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