Hypothetical question

ediej1209(5 N Central OH)December 29, 2012

Just out of curiosity - if one were to successfully grow an indeterminate tomato plant indoors where it is not subject to frost or freezing, is it conceivable that the plant could actually live for longer than one growing season? If so, would it continue to produce fruit?

Edie, who fantasizes about fresh tomatoes in February!

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Hypothetical Answer. LOL

Yes, if you have an elaborate lighting system,preferably with halide lights, and be sure to do the pollinating yourself since I assume you would not have insect pollinators inside the house. Or you could keep fans going,which facilitates self pollenization

Those who have tried with just south facing window light have not been successful, and conventional lighting inside doesn't work that well either.

You might want to consider some windowsill varieties such as Red Robin and others, that have worked for a lot of folkis, and there are other small determinate or tiny ones that might also work.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 1:03PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

LOL - thanks, Carolyn. I guess my question really is: do tomato plants die off because of lack of light/warmth as fall gets here, or do they all have a set life span? I know determinates do, but just wondering about the indeterminates. That's why I was wondering about growing indoors where light and temp can be better controlled. If so, I may have to ask Santa for a REALLY good greenhouse with a heating system next Christmas!!

Edie

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 3:16PM
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barrie2m_

Edie, that request may be one that you will not fully use more than one winter. As Caroly mentioned, lighting is also going to be needed. However you will have a host of other problems to manage like condensation and the diseases that follow. Your plant(s) will continue to grow and with that comes unsightly tangling of branches and stems.

I usually grow INDT. varieties from early March thru November. This year I picked a few in Dec. although I still have about a half bu. in my basement from green fruits I picked in late Nov. But now I've cleaned out the plants and put props under the arches to prevent colapse from snow. There are just better ways to have winter tomatoes than to manage all these winter hastles. Come March there is plenty of sunlight to grow transplants started in January under shoplights in my house. I'd venture to speculate that well over 90% of greenhouse tomato growers have come to accept a similar seasonal routine.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'd venture to speculate that well over 90% of greenhouse tomato growers have come to accept a similar seasonal routine.

Agree. While it is theoretically possible given ideal conditions to keep one going it just isn't practical. Not only does the health of the plant gradually decline but the number, size, and quality of the fruit declines substantially. Meanwhile the work and the costs of providing the needed growing conditions (heat, nutrients, humidity, CO2 levels, and lighting) becomes cost prohibitive.

Dave

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:54PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Well, phooey, realities and practicalities always have a way of messing with fantasy, don't they? OK, so no greenhouse and big tomatoes.

Thanks, though, for confirming that indeterminates do have the potential for a longer lifespan than what we normally see.

Edie

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:59PM
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fusion_power

Yes Edie, in their native environment in the tropics, tomatoes are true perennials. They typically live 5 to 9 years in parts of Peru, Chili, and Ecuador. As noted above, disease builds up over time which tends to limit usable lifetime. Here in temperate climate zones, they can be grown as perennials but are uneconomic to do so.

DarJones

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 4:19AM
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monet_g

Edie,
When my tomato "jones" get out of control in the winter, I buy the campari tomatoes. Not as good as home grown, but they have some flavor and don't taste like plastic. Also, cherries aren't too bad. I put them in a salad with a little dressing (and a little imagination). I let both sit on the counter a few days before consuming so they sweeten up a bit.
Gail

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:04AM
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sconticut(6b)

Just to add to digdirts comments, plants do wear out. Spending some time each winter on the Big Island of Hawaii, I chat regularly with the local farmers in Waimea at our weekly trip to the farmers market. One told me an amusing story of a customer who came back after two years to return a cherry tomato plant for a refund because it was not producing any longer as it once did. (Obvioulsly a non gardner). We all wear out. Lichens may be an exception!!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 8:35PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Monet, just want to second the campari suggestion. They're not summer tomatoes, but they're adequate and way better than most of what you'll find in the store. They're also bigger than the cherries so they can be sliced for sandwiches if you want.

Caryl

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 6:27AM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Hmmm... I'll have to look for Campari tomatoes. I'm assuming that they are normally available at most of the bigger grocery stores?

Thanks for the suggestion!
Edie

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 10:18PM
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monet_g

"I'm assuming that they are normally available at most of the bigger grocery stores?" Yep, Sam's and Costco carry them, too. FWIW, they seem to last a long time on the kitchen counter.

Just think - I decent BLT in the middle of winter! ;-)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:18AM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Thanks ... our local store used to carry Kumato, which was also pretty tasty, but for some reason they quit carrying them (probably because other than me, there's only a handful of people in this area that know that a good tomato doesn't have to be round and red!!)

Edie

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 11:40AM
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