Can I Use Last Year's Plants?

jeff_leites(9 San Fernando Valley, CA)March 14, 2014

I have a couple of cherry tomato plants that I cut back, but didn't discard, because, with the warm weather we've had out here, they were still producing some tomatoes throughout the winter. Now it's almost time to put in the summer crop, and I noticed today, that the existing plants are developing flowers.
What should I do? Put in new plants, or will the existing plants give me another season?

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Deeby

I'm going to watch this thread. I've wondered about this too. My doctor says he still has plants from last summer, still green and still bearing. I always rip mine out in mid October because they're yellow and not flowering any longer.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 11:53PM
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flo9

I had carrots in a plastic container that kept growing all through winter last year at freezing and below zero temps outside. I was afraid to eat them although may sound a little silly... they looked exactly as they would during summer time all fresh. Even the tops grew. I composted them for Mother Earth to have in the yard.

I would hold onto tomato plants if they're still producing and see how well they do... they aren't a root veggie.

Edit... BTW... I've planted 2 cherry tomato plants in a 3 1/2 gallon bucket twice before. They must be planted at least 6 inches apart. 1 pot I only planted 4 inches apart and they died. But the other pot I had loads of continuous tomatoes and kept giving them away. It was an experiment I had done since I didn't want to throw the seedlings away from my having too many.

This post was edited by flo9 on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 0:29

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 12:22AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Edit... BTW... I've planted 2 cherry tomato plants in a 3 1/2 gallon bucket twice before.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Deeby, that is an interesting experiment.

Back to the OP's question;

Never had an experience with over wintering tomato, But I think they will get pretty tired after a while. They might still fruit but not much. So I would rather plant a young seedling. But OTOH, if you have space you might want to keep it

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:58AM
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labradors_gw

I'd keep them. In about 53 days you'll get tomatoes!

Tomatoes are perennials after all, as long as they have a warm climate.

Linda

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 9:16AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

There are hundreds of cherry tomato varieties and they come in all sorts of sizes and types. So the accurate answer to your question depends on the variety and type. Sure you have nothing to lose by trying it but if you want a guarantee of health and production then the odds heavily favor starting with a new plant.

And planting 2 cherry tomatoes in a 3 1/2 gallon pot??? That could be a very misleading statement to readers. What specific variety? It would not be recommended by most experienced growers and it would never work with many cherry varieties that usually grow to over 8' tall and 4' wide with a root ball at least that big.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:29AM
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lazy_gardens

Tomatoes are a short-lived perennial. Keep them! It will give you a head start on this season's harvest.

Prune them back a bit to encourage new branching and you can easily get a second season out of them.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:38AM
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labradors_gw

Flo9,

I did the same thing and for the same reason! I planted two cherry tomatoes in a 3 gallon pot this winter and they lived and produced a lot of fruit!

In my garden, this variety (the name of which is unknown) normally grows 6' tall, so they were very cramped and eventually succumbed to spider mites, but that was party because I left the container outside on a very cold night which really stressed the plant and made it vulnerable to attack.

Linda

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 12:13PM
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flo9

Dave,

They were white wonder heirlooms. I also remember I had done this in 2012 with these and a orange pear shaped type of cherry. The plants grew 7 feet tall in a height of 9 inches of soil.

And ironically they didn't get diseased at all and kept producing fruit. I threw it away with many babies last fall once the temps were steady very cold outside... I wanted to sterilize all my pots for coming spring to use before I'd dread it being colder. I do it outside so I don't have to smell the bleach.

Tomatoes larger than cherry types I give their own container for.

So yes it is very do-able. Containers I had 1 cherry plant in each produced about the same. I'm just saying it is a MUST to have them 6 inches or more apart from each other in the same pot.

I'm the type... if I had an extra container and seedlings... I'd rather give it a chance and see if it'll work... but I don't go extreme... I wouldn't try 3 in a pot for instance.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Deeby

Flo, friends of mine in Montana eat carrots that have been under the snow all winter.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

BTW... I've planted 2 cherry tomato plants in a 3 1/2 gallon bucket twice before. They must be planted at least 6 inches apart.

Now I really am confused since White Wonder isn't a cherry tomato but an indeterminate beefsteak.

I'm the type... if I had an extra container and seedlings... I'd rather give it a chance and see if it'll work.

I understand what you are saying but people do many things whether they should or not. That's fine, their choice, But encouraging or assuring others that yes it is fine to do based on their anecdotal experience is a whole other ballgame. Without all the variables included, all the specifics addressed, it misleads and when it defies common practice someone will call it.

I'm sorry flo but something else contributed to your apparent success - climate, mis-labeled variety, luck, whatever. But 6" spacing or 4" spacing of 2 plants in a 3 1/2 gallon container that is far too small to begin with will fail 99% of the time. There simply is decades of overwhelming evidence to support that fact.

Tomatoes larger than cherry types I give their own container for

There are many, if not a majority, of "cherry type" varieties where the plants are 2-3x bigger than many indeterminate beefsteak varieties. It is a common wrong belief that just because a plant produces cherry sized tomatoes it must be a small plant. The opposite is very often true.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:34PM
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flo9

@ Deeby

Really. I didn't know if it was safe and I asked a well known gardener on youtube what he thought about it and he said it's happened to him once and he gave them to his chickens or composted them??

I just thought better safe than sorry incase it made me sick. The weather sometimes warmed up then got freezing. But was steady freezing for over a month and still grew.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Deeby

Yes, better safe than sorry. I think hers stayed frozen. Or at least very cold. She said they were the best, sweetest carrots she'd ever had.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 8:45PM
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flo9

Dave... when did I encourage others to do the same???? I haven't. I just explained what I did and my experiences. I gave an option to try based on my own experiences if Jeff wanted to.... and another member here said she did the same as me and her plants were as successful as mine!!!!!! How come you are ONLY picking on me????? Geesh.

White Wonder is what I remember it being called and it IS THE SIZE OF A CHERRY TOMATO!!!!!!!!!! Bakers Creek no longer sells it. And my plants reached 7 feet tall,

Dang Dave... just because you disagree with something or hasn't worked for you doesn't mean it isn't do-able. Gardeners left n right are doing things all of the time proving many theories wrong.

I have 100% success doing this at 6 inches apart based on 3 containers with 2 plants... 4 inches is a fail.

Go pick on your plants and not people please...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Deeby

Jeff, it'll be interesting to see what you get. I'd keep my old plants if they had some green, but they always have a lot of yellow leaves and dead brown ones too, so I always wind up tearing the spent plants out.
I wonder if my doctor's plants and yours are still doing OK due to your micro climates?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 9:43PM
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dave_f1 SC, USDA Zone 8a(7b)

Dave- makes sense to me....to summarize 4" apart in 3 gal pot=certain death and 6" apart=amazing results. I assume a 5" spacing would be somewhere between. btw White Wonder could be cherry-sized for flo.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 11:35PM
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flo9

You guys can think what you want but there is NO WHERE I wrote that everyone should definitely be doing this. For I couldn't give a rats ass if anyone did or not. I clearly expressed what has been successful for me!!!!!!!!

4 inches and 6 inches are my experiences and makes perfect sense since roots are too close.

Damn,... getting ridiculed is a quick way to lose my respect for this forum and putting things in my mouth I never had said.

I am not the person to be walked over nor any ones punching bag.

Freaking go away if any of you care to treat me and others that way.

We all learn from each other..... not cool to ridicule what has been PROVEN for me... and another member here said it's worked for her too!!!!!!!!!!!

It to each gardeners choice what they want to do in their garden for themselves. And myself and millions of others have planted things in soils etc that some people think is impossible but isn't.

BTW... I will keep sharing my experiences as I care to...even my 2 cherry tomato plants in a 3 1/2 gallon pot anywhere I want to.

On your bike Dave.

This post was edited by flo9 on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 0:02

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 11:57PM
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donna_in_sask

There would be no harm in keeping them alive but unless they produced tomatoes that were unique in some way (or I didn't have access to that same variety), I would start with fresh plants. I would also be more inclined to take cuttings and start new plants than keep the old plant, the stems would likely be quite scraggly after a year of growing.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 12:36AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I hope that OP has gotten some good advice.

On the pot/container size : In principle plants need certain amount of root space. So they have enough roots to support them. Beyond that plant need nutrients and moisture( for the nutrients to be readily available). The reason to have more roots is to compensate for the scarcity of nutrients. So if the amount of nutrients is available in abundant near the plant, there is no need for 100s of feet of roots.
Therefore, it is principally possible to grow certain plants in clumps or very closely. But then the grower/gardener's task will be challenging and difficult, in providing the plans' needs in steady stream.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 3:43AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Another way to use last year's plants to advantage is to root cuttings from them. Tomatoes root readily and it is a quick way to get new, nice sized plants.

Jim

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 10:20PM
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Deeby

I have a four foot trumpet vine crammed into a ceramic bowl. As long as she's moist and lightly fed she's happy. Covered in new growth and will flower again soon.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 10:48PM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

One of my 2013 tomato plants survived the winter (so far) in the house. It kept giving me fruit until mid-January but now the plant looks like crap, so I plan to take cuttings and root them as "new" plants in a few weeks. But, Jeff, if your last year's plants still look good, it might be fun to see how well they do in their second year. If you try it, please keep us updated about how it goes.

Regarding 2 plants to a pot, I've grown different varieties of semi-determinates, with mid-sized fruit, in 3.5 gallon pots a few times. They aren't as productive per plant as if they each got their own pot, but I'm a seed saver and I like getting the greater genetic diversity from double planting in my limited space. I actually prefer to use larger pots if I'm double planting, however, because all of the moisture in the smaller pots can get used up with extreme speed on hot summer days, so it's harder to keep the plants from dehydrating to death, since I haven't gotten around to using self-watering containers yet.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:50PM
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