Issue: November 6, 2004

Mushy green tomatoes | Pollarded mulberry tree

Mushy green tomatoes

Question:

My tomato plants froze the other night so I went out the next morning and picked all the green tomatoes. Will they ripen in my kitchen? Some are turning very soft and mushy, but they are still green. Is that okay?

Answer:

The fact that they are turning mushy means that they froze. According to Patricia Aaron, Bernalillo County Extension Home Economist, once fresh fruits and vegetables have frozen and thawed decay begins quickly. They are not safe to eat. As with packaged frozen fruit and vegetables that have directions telling you not to re-freeze once thawed, the fresh fruits and vegetables should be used as soon as they thaw or should be discarded. Patricia said that most people are aware of this when it comes to protein foods like meat, milk, eggs and such, but the same principles hold true for fruits and vegetables.

If some of the tomatoes were not frozen, remain firm, and show no deterioration, you can allow them to ripen in the house or you can eat them as green tomatoes. Patricia has a publication with green tomato recipes available if you call the Bernalillo County Extension office at (505) 243-1386 and ask for the publication "Green Tomatoes."

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Pollarded mulberry tree

Question:

We have recently moved to a home with 2 fruitless mulberry trees. I understand that they must be trimmed back every year to the "knuckles." Do we wait until all the leaves are off the tree? We just need to know the correct time to trim them.

Sally L.

Answer:

You don't have to cut to the "knuckles" each year (or at least every second year) unless you are maintaining the tree as a "pollarded" tree - a tree that is cut back at least every second year to the knuckles. The best time of year for this is the tree's dormant season after the leaves have fallen.

If the trees were already pollarded when you moved to your home, you can maintain them as pollarded trees, cut them down, or try to restore the branches by allowing only one to grow from each knuckle. The last choice is the least desirable option because it is very likely that the branch attachment will be weak, and the branch will break after it becomes large and dangerous.

By maintaining the tree in pollarded form, it will remain smaller and the branches will be removed before they become dangerous. However, this is a lot of work. Replacing the tree allows you to choose another kind of tree that is more to your liking. If you like the fruitless mulberry and don't have a problem with the aeroallergins (pollen) that it produces each year, you may choose to keep this tree. The fruitless mulberry has many desirable traits but is a severe source of allergy-causing pollens. A spring or summer flowering tree may be more to your liking and may have less impact on your family's health. There are many beautiful flowering trees that are well adapted to our soils and climate. You can also select a tree that offers fruit or autumn color. The choice is yours.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu or at https://www.facebook.com/DesertBloomsNM/. Please include your county Extension Agent (aces.nmsu.edu/county) and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page: desertblooms@nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.