Cherry tomatoes inside in winter

ryseryse_2004December 13, 2012

I don't have a greenhouse but do have a large bank of south facing windows. I have 'Tiny Tim" and 'Red Robin' seeds - both dwarf that should grow in gallon pots. I just started the seeds yesterday -- any tips on how I can get cherry tomatoes for our salads this winter?

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

Sure. Tomatoes aren't unique in what they need so just as with any other blooming/fruiting plants grown indoors you will need to supply lots of broad spectrum supplemental lighting using metal halide ideally or CFLs or shop lights for a minimum of 16 hours a day. Spectrum color is vital to force blooming.

Also set up a small fan to increase air circulation around the plants once they germinate and to aid in pollination if they bloom. Also learn about hand pollination and how to do it. Supplemental heat will be needed to warm the soil enough for germination.

Check out all the FAQs on the Growing from Seed forum here for info on the types and amounts of light needed as well and how to germinate seeds. You'll also find lots of info on lighting set-ups over on the Growing Under Lights forum here.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 7:12PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I grew Red Robins last year in one gallon containers with south facing windows. I started the seed on top of my fridge.

I didn't have to provide any extra light to get them to fruit. I had a fan on them with a timer that ran for about 1 hour around 3 PM every day. That was the warmest time of the day.

However the fruit wouldn't ripen on the vine, they just stayed green. I could pull them off and put them on my kitchen counter and they would ripen in a few days.

In Feb. they started to ripen on the vine. They tasted much better ripened on the vine and started producing more fruit.

I had more than I could use before the end of March.

I would suggest a 2 gallon container, which I am using this year, because they were root bound last year. Mine went in to the big pots over a month ago and they are starting to bloom now.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Oh thank you!!! I don't use extra lighting since my windows are in my living area and I don't care for the 'look' but it sounds like you had success without them. This is exciting!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 3:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I wish you luck but even in the greenhouses in zone 6 we have to use supplemental lighting during the winter to get blooming and fruit ripening because the blue to red sunlight spectrum changes so much, the intensity falls off dramatically, and the number of hours of sun exposure is reduced so much. The further north you are the more drastic the negative changes in the sunlight so note that while it worked somewhat for wertach in zone 7b even though ripening remained an issue, your sunlight in zone 5 will be quite a bit less.

There are all sorts of attractive supplemental light set-ups available. As I mention before the Growing Under Light form is a wealth of info on winter gardening under lights.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 6:56PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I agree with Dave, I didn't notice zone 5. It is still worth a shot though!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 12:07PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

I grew them in my office a few years ago as an experiment. I had large south facing windows and I had a 1 gallon (or maybe 2 gallon) pot. I actually taped the stems to the window to serve as my stake/cage. Other than giving them some liquid fertilizer every month or so, I didn't do anything else with them (no fan, no additional lights).

The yeild wasn't great though. The most I got at any one time was probably enough for a salad for one, but they kept producing all winter long and into spring.

I had to get rid of it because people complained about the smell. (Crazy, I know!) It was amazing how fast the smell would travel through the office if someone shook the plant! We're talking speed of light here!!!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Well Bart, you are two zones warmer than me. My dwarf tomatoes are germinated. I plant them in 16" clear beer cups with lots of holes in the bottom. I only put 2" of soil in them when I put the seeds in then as they grow I add soil. This way the cup is filled with roots when it is time to transplant into pots.

So, I will try - if I get no tomatoes, I will have large plants to plant out in the spring.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:11AM
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You answerered your own Q with this last post. Starting seed now will basically give you a month lead over my starting date for greenhouse planting. By early March you might have plenty of light depending on your setting. However you will get lanky plants in the meantime without supplemental light. Either way you are very optimistic about Winter fruit. Early Spring picking is more realistic.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:01AM
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