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Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

Posted by applebuilder North Orange County (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 24, 09 at 3:43

I was wondering if you could grow tomatoes as perennials in Southern California. Also what would happen if you left some tomatoes on the plant? Would the plant use it for energy? Would it rot and fall off?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

hi, if you live in a frost free climate than you can try to grow tomatoes as a perreniall but I personsally think you'll get better production by starting new plants every 12 months or so.

if you were to leave a tomato on the vine it woul ripen and slowly rot and the next year you might get a bunch of little tomato seedlings were the tomato fell on the ground.

DLF


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

I was wondering if you could grow tomatoes as perennials in Southern California

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Theoretically yes, but I have several CA tomato friends and they find if they let the plants overwinter, or what goes for winter in S CA that the plants don't produce well the next season, so they do start new plants from seed around Xmas or a bit after, or buy new plants to set out in late March or so.

They try to avoid the high heat condtions of your summers as do folks in other such climates, so when the Spring crop, which is usually mid and late season varieties is done, they then start seeds for a Fall crop, usually short and midseason varieties and often have good fruits up until almost Xmas.

Tomato species are perennial where they originated from and still grow, which is in the highlands of Chile and Peru, but the weather conditions there are temperate, not tropical.

Carolyn


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

but I personsally think you'll get better production by starting new plants every 12 months or so.

I imagine you could restore vigor by re-rooting suckers and then planting those in place of the parent plant.


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

I lived in Irvine, CA for 6 years and long to move back there. I wore a jacket exactly twice in the years I was there. Look at the weather averages. Makes you want to puke doesn't it ?

http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USCA0517?from=36hr_bottomnav_business

Carolyn:

Two questions for you please:

1) Can't applybuilder just pluck a sucker and root from that. Winter doesn't last very long in So Cal.
2) "Try to avoid the high heat conditions...". It's coming into the hot summer months here in July and August. But half of my crops appears stunt and havent' set at all. I want to pull them and plant a few plants to have a late harvest. Are you saying to not plant in the summer months ?

Thanks.


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

I too was wondering about using suckers to prolong the season. Would it have similar drawbacks as going perennial? In one of my other posts someone told me you could cut the tomato plant back and it's the same thing as planting for a second crop. Anyone know anything about this? Do plants continue to grow and produce when you've cut the growing tip and more?


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

I live in South Orange County and the climate where I live is essentially frost free. I have over wintered tomatoes before. The plants will live, but I never get very many tomatoes during the colder months and the plants do not look very happy. They will come back a bit with new green growth starting in February or so. However, I have never continued them from year to year. You might have some luck if you wanted to root cuttings from the plant, but in general I think you would be happier planting new seeds or buying new plants instead.

If you leave the tomatoes on the plant they will just rot and fall off.


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RE: Perennial tomatoes in SouthernCalifornia

Sorry to double post, but this is to your second question. I leave most of the old branches on my tomatoes through the winter. Even though we don't really get a frost, it is not warm enough for the plant to thrive. I would not cut off the growing tips because that is where I get some of the new growth, but you can get some suckers as well. I don't think that there is a huge advantage to cutting back the plants, but I have never tried it.


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

I recently took a plant out that was still producing (from last year) simply because I did not like the tomatoes so much. Now I have heaps of nice heirloom seedlings (and a couple of hybrid varieties as well). I simply replaced the plant by another one that I hope to like better since I do not have enough growing room.

One year we kept harvesting tomatoes into the second year from two plants, I think one was a longkeeper and the other was either a Glacier or a Stupice (not sure so this year we are growing both and we'll know). What we do is cut the brown stuff, basically prune the tomato plants, leaving only the new growth. They seems to go dormant and do not produce much in the winter, but they start in early spring and produce again. Two years is the most we have gone though. I would be willing to keep them longer and will continue experimenting, however, we do get frost here (foothills of the San Gabriels) and I have lost tomato plants to frost. Orange County would offer much better chances for success overwintering tomatoes.

The other observation we made is that some plants (I think it was an Opalka) go dormant in the heat of the summer but they give you a second crop in the fall, so don't remove that plant yet! Not such a bad deal.


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

1) Can't applybuilder just pluck a sucker and root from that. Winter doesn't last very long in So Cal.

Sure folks can start new plants from suckers of varieties they like. I didn't mention it b'c I know most folks like to trial as many different varieties as they can, always looking for that perfect tomato, LOL, so almost all of my friends in high heat areas don't grow the same varities for the Fall crop that they do for the Spring crop. And one wouldn't anyway, if concentrating onlong and midseason for the Spring crop and early and midseason varieties for the Fall crop.

And has been mentioned above by me and others have chimed in, plants overwintered don't usually produce as they did in the previous season; lots of variables there.

2) "Try to avoid the high heat conditions...". It's coming into the hot summer months here in July and August. But half of my crops appears stunt and havent' set at all. I want to pull them and plant a few plants to have a late harvest. Are you saying to not plant in the summer months ?

What I'm saying is that you have to plant early enough so that the plants will pollenize while temps are still moderate b/c high temps inhibit pollenization and/or fruit set, and you want the fruits to mature before the high heat kicks in.

None of my S Cal friends would be setting out plants for the Fall crop until maybe early to mid September. and so stating seeds in maybe early July or so to get those plants to set out transplant size of maybe 6-9 inches.

And your nurseries there offer a lot of varieties to chose from for the Fall season as well as the Spring season.

I never really appreciated the problems that folks in zones 9 and 10 have, as do others in other states, until I was invited to give a weekend program on heirloom tomatoes at Hortus Nursery in Pasadena. I also spent time at their then store in Orange County and it was great b'c I got to meet a lot of folks I knew from online.

Hortus went out of business, but Gary, who ran it, has now been with Armstrong Nursries for quite a few years.

Does the above help?

Carolyn


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

Hey Applebuilder; I live in S. CA , Venice to be exact. I sold my house in the Canals a couple of years ago. (Before the Meltdown) Lucky me!
Anyway I have created the same system I had at that house. Upstairs deck faced south.Covered in 10 1/2 " terra cotta tiles that radiated heat back to tomatoes in the fall. I just left plants from the summer. I found that Rutgers and Cherokee Purple are usually the best cultivars for this.(I am also trying "Indian Stripe" this year that I got from Victory seeds).
Also My experience with tomatoes from the second year are small and inedible.I much prefer planting Tomatoes from seed that I grew the year before. Pepper's and Eggplant's are fine from 2 year old plants but not as productive.


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RE: Perennial Tomatoes in Southern California

Thanks for all the great feedback. I guess the general consensus is that 2nd year tomatoes are no good. Bit of a pity, though, to finish off a plant before it's through. I did get an idea that uses the "air layering" propagation technique, and maybe I'll post it next year if it does any good.

To Cabrita: I was just wondering what your particular experiences with 2nd year tomatoes were. I'm guessing that they couldn't have been too bad since you're going to experiment with keeping them longer. Thanks.


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