Do Tomatoes Get Cold Feet?

No, tomatoes really don’t get cold feet but, then, why do they need socks? For protection from the ubiquitous Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs!

Two Maryland Food Gardeners have submitted photos of the “Tomato Socks” they created to protect their tomatoes.
First, Julie Wolf’s Tomato Socks…
On the cherry tomato plant, you can see one tomato cluster in a bag and another next to it which
had been covered with an old sock (which is what I tried first).

Both seem to work well to keep off bugs and squirrels, but it’s easy to knock off the
developing fruits while getting the sock over them, which is sad.

You can see how the bags look in the garden–a little silly, but anything to save the tomatoes!
In the pic, I have pepper and tomato fruits covered with bags or with the old socks I mentioned
(in the background are raspberries, loosely covered with row cover to keep the birds off–but
I found it too difficult to try to seal off entire plants from insects).

If you sew larger bags, you can fit a whole cluster of fruits into one large drawstring bag. I also make smaller bags, because only some of my varieties form clusters, others form single fruits. I also make some extra-long ones to accommodate Carmen-type long peppers.
Here’s what the bags look like when sewed–basically a pillowcase with the edge of the opening folded over
and secured after placing a drawstring. It takes me about 5 minutes to make one bag, which isn’t too bad considering that I am not an accomplished sewer.

I think they could also be glued together instead of sewed, but you would want to pick a glue that is waterproof and will work with the row cover composition (I am using Agribon + Ag-19 from Johnny’s,
which is made of “spun bonded polypropylene”).

To quickly cut out and sew these:
Note–the rowcover fabric is thin so it can get caught up in your sewing machine, be careful for that.

1. Fold over the straight edge of your row cover fabric, so that the width of the fold is how wide you want the bag to be (see pic).
2. Cut out a rectangle with the fold making one side (see pic).
3. The folded edge will form a side of your bag, so you can then use a straight stitch in an L shape:sew the bottom, lift presser foot of sewing machine with needle mid stitch to turn fabric 90 degrees, and continue to sew side seam in a single go.
4. Once you’ve sewn the bottom and side so that you have a bag shape, cut a piece of string about times the width of the bag’s opening, minimum (I make mine a lot longer).
5. Fold over the top edge of the bag all the way around, to make a ‘cuff’ about 1/2 inch wide.
6. Cut a small (< 1/8 inch) hole right at the top/outer edge of the cuff.
7. Feed the ends of the string through the hole and tuck the string under the cuff so that it is lying flat and pushed to the top edge of the cuff, then
8. Sew (or glue) the bottom edge of the cuff, all the way around the bag.
9. To finish, turn the bag inside out–now all the clumsy seams and cut edges are inside and the string ends are outside.

10. Also recommended–tie big knots in each end of the string so it can’t accidentally be pulled inside the fold.

Happy sewing or gluing and gardening!

Now, take a look at Wendy Feaga’s creation out of window screening…

We had stink bugs destroy 100% of our tomatoes. I finally devised little socks made of fly screening which I stapled around individual tomatoes and finally these protected tomatoes to ripen without rotting.
I heard there is such a “sock” available commercially for fruit. Does anyone know what they are called and where I can buy them? Submitted below is a picture of one of my “fruit socks” and another of the unprotected and rotted tomatoes.
The third is a nicely ripened tomato in one of these socks.

A hearty THANK YOU to both Julie Wolf and Wendy Feaga for sharing their innovative ideas with GIEI and the Maryland Food Gardening Network!

2 Comments on “Do Tomatoes Get Cold Feet?

  1. Thanks for the great tip about window screen fabric. I was considering buying nylon bags, but was unsure which size to buy. The great thing about the screen fabric is that I can staple up any size bag that I want. Another benefit is that the screen will be sort of stiff, so it will be held off of the tomato by the “folds” and the leaf-footed bugs will not be able to stick their suckers through the netting to MY tomatoes.

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