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.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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