Over wintering a cutting

courtesyflushSeptember 27, 2012

I planted Black Moor tomato seeds in the spring, and just like last year, I now, as frost is imminent, have 3 small green tomatoes on just one branch of just one plant. I want to bring just a part of the plant indoors to ripen these 3 tomatoes so I might get seeds from them.

So, how do I take a cutting of this plant that includes the little green tomatoes, and how do I set it up indoors to care for it over the winter?

Can it even be done?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

That is going to be difficult to do - keep the fruit going on a cutting which has no root development. Cuttings with fruit on them simply can't develop a root system fast enough to keep the cutting alive and also support fruit development.

If you can't move the whole plant intact into a protected environment then you'd do much better to bring the protection out to the plant with an enclosure/covering of some kind. For seed collection you need to protect the plant until at least good color break on the fruit, not necessarily until fully ripe.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:10AM
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suncitylinda

If you have a freeze/frost coming you can pick and ripen fruit off the vine by wrapping it in paper and storing in a basement, garage or other non heated place.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:01PM
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courtesyflush

Thanks Dave and Linda for your responses. I was afraid I would loose the little tomatoes if I tried to re-root the branch they were on and your response confirms that.

Bringing it indoors is not going to be an option as the plant is over 3 feet high.

So, covering it somehow outdoors where it is seems the only option. I have no experience with this. As it is, the plant is up against the vinyl sided wall on the gable end of a small building, and is in a wire tomato cage. The roof overhangs this area by maybe 16 inches.

I can only ask what you, kind reader, might choose to do. I appreciate any input.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:48PM
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TheTradition(9b)

Greetings from Central Florida, where covering plants from the cold is an art form. We are able to grow many tender plants here, as frosts and freezes only happen a few nights out of the year, and as long as the freeze isn't too hard, most plants can be protected.

If you're trying to protect your tomato plant from a cold snap, the trick is to cover the entire plant all the way to the ground. You're trying to capture the heat rising from the ground and keep your plant a little warmer than the outside temperature. You want to do this in the late-afternoon before the temperature plunges with nightfall. I've kept plants from freeze damage well down into the 20s this way. If it gets into the teens then effectiveness declines rapidly.

Old sheets, blankets, cloth shower curtains and towels work well. They also sell frost cloth at the stores but I've never tried those products. Do not use plastic as that doesn't hold in the heat. Use bamboo stakes, sticks, garden tools, whatever you have on hand to support the cover so it doesn't break any parts of the plant you're tring to protect. Make sure the cover goes all the way to the ground on all sides, and hold it down with something (bricks, logs, boards, again, whatever you have on hand) to prevent wind from blowing the cover off. You may need to combine two or more sheets to cover the whole plant. Overlap the covers and use clothespins to keep them together.

Make sure you remove the cover before the sun shines on it the next morning. If it's too cold to take the cover off during the day, then it's probably too cold for this process to save your plant as you need heat from the ground for it to work.

Some people put Christmas lights or other heat sources under the cover to help provide more heat. I've tried this and it was successful, but there was no way to tell if the cover without the lights would have been fine, too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If you have a freeze/frost coming you can pick and ripen fruit off the vine by wrapping it in paper and storing in a basement, garage or other non heated place.

Not for seed saving. The seeds won't be mature.

Good info from Tradition on how to protect it - blankets/sheets work much better than plastic. Since it has a cage and is up against a wall (which will provide some additional heat) use that and the overhang as a framework for enclosing it - a mini-greenhouse type structure around it on 3 sides using the wall as the back.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:03PM
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courtesyflush

Good ideas! And thanks everyone!

Without everyones help I would have used plastic and I had no idea I should cover it all the way to the ground to trap the heat.

I'm glad I found this place! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:42PM
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