It's happening. Days are getting noticeably shorter and cooler. Tank tops in the garden have been replaced by long sleeve shirts and there is a certain chill to the air - the seasons are changing. In the garden, especially given this summer's cooler temps and late start, you've likely been staring at branches of green tomatoes with hopeful eyes and fingers crossed. While we can't control the sun, we can control the plant, and there are some late-season tips for getting the ripest tomatoes in the last few weeks of warm(ish) weather.
If you haven't been trimming suckers off your plant all summer, now is the time. Essentially the branches on the main stem, suckers can be snipped off without affecting the fruit. By doing so, you are in essence re-routing the plant's energy to making a full ripe fruit, not new leaves and branches. (That is a really simplified way of looking at it, by the way, but it works.)
To further encourage ripening, now is a great time to remove all the flower clusters on the plant, as well, and even the little green tomatoes. They really won't have enough time to mature, so you're not losing anything in the process.
My last tip is a tricky one that really depends on weather, so sometimes I use this, and other times I don't. You can try and kill the vines by cutting off their water supply. This stress to the plant causes them to ripen fruit (fascinating that plants can register when they die, so they hurry to get seeds made). Trouble is.....if it rains you run the risk of disease to the plant. It's a gamble, but in a cold year like this, it could be worth it.
If anyone has any other great tips, please feel free to comment. Be on the lookout in late September for green-tomato recipes. I'm certain that will be an upcoming post!