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Summer is the time to grow tomatoes, after which you can simply preserve and store them as you like. However, it’s not always that you get to harvest fully ripe tomatoes before fall comes and you’re left with halfway-ripened tomatoes just days before the first frost.

Once the frost hits, you won’t be able to harvest anything since tomatoes stop developing in cold weather. If you want them to survive the first freeze, a row cover or sheets can help but it won’t be much help without heat and sunlight afterwards. The best chance you have at getting red tomatoes is to pick your half-ripened tomatoes now and get the job done indoors. If you can see some patches of red on them, it’s likely that they’ve started ripening and all you need to do is finish the job.

About Ethylene

This gas is produced and used commercially all around the world to ripen produce such as fruits because there are usually picked while green so that they can be shipped. It may sound weird since you’ve been trying to avoid artificial additions to your crops so why even mention ethylene? Well it is also a naturally produced gas that’s made by fruits like apples and bananas while ripening. Place the half-ripe tomatoes with a ripe apple or banana and watch them ripen up. You’ll need to place them in an enclosed space to fully ripen. Use any one of the following methods:

Use a Paper Bag

Based on how big of a bag you have, you can place about 5 to 10 tomatoes in it along with a banana or apple that’s ripening. Leave the paper bag in a warm place and remember to check on the banana or apple for signs of spoilage.

Use a Plastic Bag or Big Glass Jar

Both of these work well in place of a paper bag, enclosing the space and concentrating the ethylene gasses. Place about 2 green tomatoes per bag/jar along with a ripening apple or banana. But keep in mind that these containers can trap moisture very well too, so you’ll need to make holes in the bag or the lid of the jar (or open them often to let moisture escape) to prevent spoilage.

Trap Them In Their Own Gases

No apples or bananas? No problem. Tomatoes put off a small amount of ethylene gasses on their own, but it’s tricky to ripen them before the fruit begins to rot. Enter newspaper, it’ll speed things up. Place newspaper along the bottom of a cardboard box and put your tomatoes on top. Make sure to keep space in between each tomato and place them in a single layer. Add another layer of newspaper over the top and close the box. Store in a warm place and check often.

Hang Them Up

This is in case a frost is quickly on its way and you don’t have the time to individually pick each one. You can remove the entire plant and then hang it upside down in a cellar or garage where temperatures will be a little warmer. Even though you’ll be removing the entire plant, this method can give you more flavorsome tomatoes since they remain on the vine longer.

If you’re planning on using any of my above-mentioned tips for ripening your tomatoes, remember that it’s always better if the tomatoes have a little bit of redness to them, or are halfway-ripened. Good luck with the upcoming frost!

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Starting a Farmer’s Market Business

If you’re looking for a way of both giving back to the community and supplementing your income, consider operating a booth at your local farmer’s market. With minimal investment, you could be on your way to becoming a successful small business owner with the help of a skill you already have and the support of your friends and neighbors. Whether you know how to make fruit preserves, bake a tasty rum cake, prepare homemade soap, or any other number of trendy products that are meeting a growing demand for local production, contact your area’s farmer’s market management today to learn more.

The first thing to check is whether or not your state has a Cottage Food Act. From California to Illinois, states with this regulation system allow anyone who meets certain requirements and passes a food handling class to make products in their home and sell them at local markets. Although the details vary from state to state, a Cottage Food Act is the best way of introducing yourself to the market. It also provides ways for the business to expand in the future and eventually use commercial kitchen space to prepare products for retail shelves, if there is an appropriate demand.

If there is no legal reason standing between you and your farmer’s market aspirations, the next step is figuring out how much money you’ll have to invest to get off the ground. Depending on the product you are planning to produce, as well as your general schedule through the summer months, it may be possible to use each week’s income to buy fresh ingredients to prepare for the next week. Otherwise, you’ll want to be sure you can stockpile enough products to last the entire season. This is also a crucial time to determine other costs, such as your booth itself. Many market vendors choose to use a canopy style event tent, which generally costs around $200.00. You’ll need a table or two and probably a chair, as well as convenient methods of transporting your goods.

Beyond the basics, think about your brand. Having business cards made up with an eye-catching logo can keep you on the minds of your consumers, and decorating your booth with tasteful fabrics or other decorative items will leave a lasting impression. There are also the operating costs of being at the farmer’s market, though these are usually very small, sometimes as little as $10.00 per week or even less. If you have several markets in the area, consider registering for multiple markets and maximizing your availability. However, be sure you’re not impeding on other’s business. Many markets try to keep only one of any given type of vendor to avoid unneeded competition.

The last thing to think about is advertising. Although the great thing about a farmer’s market is that many people will be coming to look at all the vendors and stock up for the week, increasing awareness of your specific booth is always recommended. Local papers are often looking for interviews with small business owners. Setting up a Facebook page or other social media website allows customers to connect directly with you, as well as spread your message to their friends and contacts. Giving out coupons incentives encourages people to come spend money and get to know your products better. It’s also possible to work together with other vendors at your local farmer’s market to create special deals that combine both of your customer bases.

Getting more involved with your community, as well as making some extra money, has never been easier than by starting a farmer’s market business. It’s easy to produce local products that meet a demand, and, if done wisely, costs can be kept very minimal. If you’ve been thinking about it, there’s no better time than right now to get ready for this summer’s market season. Besides, just being a vendor allows you to build connections with other vendors and often purchase products at a discounted price or even trade your homemade goods for others. There’s no reason not to start your road to farmer’s market success.


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