Most home gardens still have bushels of green tomatoes
coming on when the first frosts of the season knock the
tomato plants dead. That, however, didn't stop
great-grandpa and great-grandma from enjoying fresh,
homegrown "love apples" right up to Thanksgiving and
beyond. And it needn't stop you either.
Just pull a few of your tomato plants up by the roots (or
cut the stalks off at ground level) a few days before the
first killing frost. Then hang 'em upside down in the fruit
cellar (or anyplace that's dark and fairly cool without
being cold). The fruit will continue to ripen on the vines
throughout the fall and, if you're lucky, you'll still be
eating fresh, homegrown tomatoes into the early days of
December ... maybe even beyond.
Really experienced practitioners of this form of "root
cellar gardening" also have another trick up their sleeves:
They know that storing a few bushels of apples close to the
upsidedown stalks will cause the tomatoes to ripen faster.
(Ripening apples give off ethylene, a gas that can hasten
the maturity of some other fruits and vegetables, including
tomatoes.) Use the idea, or avoid it, as necessary to make
your love apples table-ready just when you want to serve
Nope. Not every tomato on every vine you save will finally
wind up in the kitchen (some of the fruit simply will never
get ripe). And, of course, nobody expected you to eat the
stalks in the first place. So? So, throw the wilted tomato
plants and all the fruit that doesn't make it to the table
on the compost pile when you've finished with them ... and
recycle 'em into next year's garden!