Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Tomato Fruits Prefer Some Shade

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Sun scald on tomatoes.

There is an old garden myth that says you should remove the upper leaves of tomato plants to expose the fruit to the sun, as sun exposure will help them ripen more quickly. However, there is absolutely nothing to this belief. Tomato leaves need sun, of course, but tomato fruits ripen perfectly well in their shade. You can even put a brown paper bag around a green tomato fruit on the vine and it will ripen perfectly and as quickly as any other fruit. Worse yet, tomato fruits can even burn if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight: this is called sun scald. Remember too that the more leaves a tomato plant bears, the sweeter and the richer in vitamins its fruits will be. The only leaves to remove from a tomato plant are ones that have turned yellow or brown: if they are no longer green, they’re no longer carrying out photosynthesis and you can suppress them.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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