Use Old Paper Bags to Protect Ripening Tomatoes

It can be a real pain to see beautifully ripening tomatoes attacked by insects, birds, and other pesky animals just a few days or weeks before they are finally ready to be plucked from your garden and tossed into your next salad. Luckily, you can stop this from happening if you have a few old paper shopping bags lying around.

After all, you can spend some of your time seeing to each plant, which isn’t a luxury afforded to large commercial growing fields, so you might as well make the most of that advantage.

If you’ve been dealing with a lot of damage during this year’s ripening phase, try tying a paper bag loosely around each clutch of tomatoes that you can find. Covering the maturing fruit in this manner will protect it from the unwanted attention of tomato grubs, birds, and other insects.

Thanks to the thin, slightly porous material, enough warmth and light will be able to get in to prevent the tomato from withering, but not enough will be trapped inside the bag to cause your latest crop to turn into a runny mess – this will certainly happen if you choose to use a plastic bag instead of a paper one.

Using the paper bag method should see that your tomatoes continue to ripen unmolested by uninvited scavengers, but there are a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, make sure you aren’t leaving the bags on when it is raining heavily; the moist bag will sag against the fruit. Secondly, this method won’t protect your plants from fire ants, which will tend to feed at the base rather than around the fruit itself. Of course, these aren’t problems that you’re likely to have to deal with.

There are plenty of other ways to repurpose your paper bags in the garden once those juicy tomatoes have all been picked, so don’t just throw them away afterwards. If they’re still mostly intact, save them to protect your plants from the cold during winter; if they’ve become torn up, tear them into strips and then add those strips to your compost heap.