Ripening Green Tomatoes & Lawn Mushrooms

Question:

We have lots of medium-sized green tomatoes, but they seem not to be ripening. They're on a balcony that faces east but gets some southerly exposure until early afternoon. With the days getting shorter, how might we get them to ripen before a frost kills the plants? 

Answer:

  • Some of our best tomatoes of the season come very late in the year. So, it's not that unusual that the vines are loaded with green tomatoes as cooler temperatures approach.
  • Your best solution is to ripen them off the vine in a ripening chamber. A simple ripening chamber, any shallow, cardboard, or plastic box with a removable lid, is an easy way to ripen tomatoes off the vine.
    • The container is lined with a two-inch layer of newspaper with the largest tomatoes placed in the container(s)without touching one another as rotting can occur. Another two-inch layer of newspaper separates a second layer can be added but no more.
    • The containers are then stored in a cool, dry location like a garage. In your case, if you have no garage, I'd leave them on the balcony. Tomatoes give off ethylene gas during ripening. This naturally occurring gas causes them to turn red or ripen over time. I'd check each container every four to five days and remove the red tomatoes.
  •  You can wait until frost warnings are posted, or you might try a few today to test the technique out, to assure yourself it works. Another method has you wrapping each tomato individually before placing them in the container. It certainly works, but it requires you to unwrap each one to find the ripe ones. Whichever method you select, guarantee you that you'll be enjoying homegrown tomatoes.

Question:

Each year, when it rains, I get mushrooms springing up in my lawn. I'm concerned that some kid walking by is going to be poisoned by eating one and sue. Is there a method of preventing them now? Unfortunately, I couldn't find a weed killer for mushrooms at the local hardware store.

Answer:

  • Weed killers or herbicides are used to control unwanted vegetation or plants. Mushrooms or Toadstools are not plants but a fungus; hence, herbicides are ineffective in preventing or killing them.
  • Mushrooms thrive in moist soils but shrivel up during dry periods regardless of the season. Therefore, they don't necessarily die. Instead, they leave spores that reproduce and grow new structures when moisture and the right conditions return.
  •   Practically speaking, there is nothing you can do to prevent or eradicate mushrooms beforehand. Fungicides control the existing mushrooms, but they will not eliminate the problem or prevent them from returning. Every year, we hear of cases where people(s) are poisoned from eating wild mushrooms they have collected. I can't recall any cases involving individual(s) or a domestic animal(s) dying or being poisoned from eating mushrooms found in a lawn.
  • While there is always a possibility, the probability is very slim of your need to be concerned about a liability issue. Instead, when the mushrooms appear, I would knock or mow them off.