How can I grow tomatoes for winter? I will be growing the large indeterminate types. Our winter reaches 20 degrees farenheight on average.
Do you have a greenhouse? I would think that the only way to grow them in winter is with a greenhouse where you could provide them with the heat they need to grow.
Hi...You might want to post this question (or do a search first) on the Tomato forum. Every fall and winter there's a lively discussion of how to extend the season, using every method under (and out of) the sun. The diehard tomato growers are pretty ingenious when it comes to try to beat Mother Nature at the beginning and end of the traditional tomato growing season.
Last winter, I grew tomatoes from seed in my basement under fluorescent lights and with heat mats, but they didn't even think about setting fruit until I put them outside in the spring, and not then until the temps really felt like 'summer.' (Late May) So, if you want tomatoes over the winter, you'll definitely need a greenhouse or something like a greenhouse---where you can control both temperature and light.
Good luck and have fun!
had 350 tomatoes from 8 plants thru dec 8. an unusual hard frost hit. lost all but 50. i did not have them double covered-only 1 layer. so i believe my 2 layers next year will beat any hard frost. the other 50 were delicious.
Kristie...do you mean 20 degrees Celsius? In Texas, it's hardly ever 20 degrees Fahrenheit!
Thompson & Morgan sells a variety called "Sub Arctic Plenty," which is supposed to be able to set fruit under quite cool conditions, but it is not frost-hardy. It's available in the US catalog as well. I've never tried it, so I don't know how good (or bad) it tastes. :-)
Here is a link that might be useful: Thompson & Morgan tomato seeds
My fiance started a few cherry toms in our cold frames in Nashville, and well... not so good. The frames are built of scrap with strawbale backs and double-pane scrounged windows with no weatherstripping or caulk (kinda leaky)
Hes gotten mustard greens, radish tops (think the lack of sun hours in the dead of winter did him no good, he just started over!) and the tomatoes got about 6" tall, then died of cold.
I think at least a good insulated greehouse, maybe a tight tall cold frame (or mini-greenhouse) with some lights for night.
I grew some heirloom tomatoes in the winter once using a small hoop house. I took several 7 gallon black nursery planters, placed hefty bags inside and filled with water. The sun would heat all this water during the day and it would provide heat during the night (that is of course, when the sun was out).
Kristie, here are a couple of articles.
This one is about fall gardening in East Texas.
Not sure which area you're in but it still has some good info.
Here's another fall gardening article:
stacey, I've seen temps in the 20's plenty of times in Texas.
The trouble with tomatoes is that they don't grow at less than 55F, and that's hard to do even in a heated greenhouse.
OTOH, if you could keep them in a sunny spot in YOUR house, where it's warmer, you might actually get some tomatoes.
Siberian toms. sed fruit at 35 degrees but not frost hardy.also sets fruit in 100 degrees in tx. you should try this one.
People are doing it all over the country and even in Canada but you need to find a fool-proof way to control temperature to start with. Not only do you need to get a heat source to keep temps above 60F, you also need fans to move the air and exhaust fans that kick on on those 30F days when the sun pops up and the inside temps soar over 100F. Then you need a good water source that won't freeze up and you either need bumble bees or you can hand pollinate. Don't bother looking for the Artic Night varieties... A good greenhouse variety like "Trust" will work best.
Brother do you have your work cut out for you. You might want to try on a small scale first because one goof on a 20F night and you will be out of business. Yet the larger your internal volume (larger greenhouse) the more temperature buffering capacity you will have.
If you already have a large structure and want to keep your fuel costs down (they will be out of sight this year)you might want to construct a greenhouse within the existing greenhouse and then construct low tunnels over each row that you can remove to pollinate, etc.
Odds are that you will find the venture cost prohibitive, but if you do manage to keep plants from freezing (or baking) and get fruits, many of which will be catfaced from lower temps then you can say "I did it".
I'm down here in San Antonio, we generally have very mild winters, some years it only freezes 3 or 4 night a year. I'm wondering if it's possible to grow grape tomatoes down here in the winter. I was very spoiled this summer and am interested in having a winter crop.
You will need to control the temperature. cold ground and air will not allow the tomatos to grow properly. also shorter days in winter will fool most plants. additional lighting to correct this will be necessary for good success. i would suggest you try some hydroponics forums for better information on what type of light works best. i let a wild tom grow in my greenhouse all winter and it did nothing till spring.
Hi! I think that you could plant tomatoes for winter you just have to be very patient and careful about the temperature as rb55 said, because the best time to start tomato gardening is when all of the other trees in your garden are fully in leaf. By this time the season will be warm and your acclimatized tomato plants will receive about 8 hours or more of life giving sunlight. If you want more information about this topics you could check this interesting article: the secret to successful tomatoe gardening
i have a few tomatoes in my greenhouse. the ones i grew last year were just a notch better than a winter store bought one. Except for the cherry variety, they had a good flavor.
tomatoes do not require insects to polinate. just give the vine a little shake now and then to distrubute the pollen.
i have mine in containers and have heat and ventilation regulated with thermostats. and provide extra light.
i have fruit on them right now. cherry,roma and a slicing variety. not sure as they were volunteers from the summer.
i guess if you want to try , give it a shot.
Are you dead set on growing large, indeterminate types? Or are you interested in getting 3-6 nice slicers a week to tide you over?
If the latter, perhaps an ideal solution is growing something like Siletz in hydro. They are a 60-75 day variety whose fruits are 10-12 ounces, sometimes larger. If you have a spare closet or even and old cabinet, you could grow two of them, one each in either a 4 or 5-gallon bucket using something like a 105 watt CFL bulb. The light will keep the chamber warm - if your room is normally about 70 degrees, the chamber will warm up to the middle 70s-low 80s depending on how well it is ventilated. Start a couple of seeds in early September and some more in mid October, then start some more in November, December, January, etc. Once one plant is finished, you'll have another one to replace it. A 105 watt and a 42 watt CFL will easily light a 3x3' chamber and you can either raise/lower the lights or the buckets as the plants grow.
You will be spending about $8 per month or the cost of less than two pounds of tomatoes (at the going price here in Cincinnati).
I grew tomatoes in 18 gallon containers this past summer. I cut one back late in the summer; it began to come back out in the Fall. Before our first frost we moved it to our enclosed south-facing porch along with a 5 gal. bucket that held a Saljut plum tomato I started in July that did not take off until Fall. Saljut had 3 blooms on it when I took it in and it is blooming at this time...we have had a dozen or more tomatoes off of it since we brought it in at the end of November...harvested 4 today.
I am not sure what the other tomato is since the # on the container no longer shows up and I used container #'s to id the tomato in the containers. It bloomed after we brought it in on the porch and currently has 10 beefsteak tomatoes of good size on the vines.
I live in zone 7b/8a in Texas and we often get down into the 20's and even into the teens...back in the 1980's we had a week of single digits and the ground began to freeze (first time in my lifetime!).
Our porch is not heated but has new double glazed windows. The floor is cement which acts as a passive collector.
As far as I can tell the porch has never been below freezing and most mornings it is in the 40's and quickly begins to warm once the sun comes up. We have been having 60's and 70's so the porch temps are very warm which the tomatoes are enjoying.
I have an Orange Bell Pepper in a container on the porch. It was covered with peppers when we had the first frost; they finished ripening on the porch and it is currently blooming with very large blooms.
Also have Sweet Red Cherry Peppers in a container on the porch that currently has a dozen peppers and dozens of buds about to bloom. The peppers on the plant now are from blooms that came after I moved it to the porch.
I use the porch to start my plants for the garden; currently have hundreds of seedlings enjoying the sun and warm temps.