Living one day at a time, by growing one seed at a time.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Last year I began researching a few articles on perennial vegetables and I found out that although tomatoes are not traditionally thought of as perennials if given the right set of circumstances they can overwinter. Over the past few years I have successfully overwintered Eggplants, Peppers sweet and Hot and for the first time Tomatoes. Last year I started some cherry tomatoes from seed and grew them in containers. Container garden for tomatoes has it challenges. First cherry tomatoes want to go everywhere. However, if you like the wild Hair look than cherry tomatoes in a container is the way to go. I'm not particularly fond of it but as an experiment it worked. As winter set in I kept the tomatoes out for as long as I could, checking the temperatures daily to to make sure they did not go below 45-40 degrees. As the cold weather set in consistently, I pulled the plants into the sun room and sat them by the windows. The rays from the sun intensify as they pass through the windows of my sun room. In there the temperature is comfortable and even on days of frost the tomatoes in my sun room do not wilt. My only downfall during this project was paying to much attention to water and overall leaf health and not paying any attention to the aphids growing unchecked in my sun room. During the overwinter process, the plants do appear to go dormant. But with tomatoes as long as there is sun they keep on producing flowers and through the winter many flowers were set and although they didn't produce bucket loads of fruit; they did produce fruit occasionally. As the spring arrived I put the plants out and for the first several weeks I saw and fought with the aphids for the first time. They were everywhere. On my eggplants, peppers, and hitting my tomatoes hard specifically targeting the new growth. The war of the aphids is not over but I'm winning and my plants are starting to show tall tale signs that they appreciate the dedication. I believe overwintering is important for urban farmers. Many of us don't have the land or space to properly rotate crops. However, with container gardening and your overwintered plants all you need to do is fertilize and re pot if needed. Recently, I added some Grade A compost manufactured from my chicken coop and the Tomatoes are absolutely loving it. The next phase of this project is to do more research on developing seeds that overwinter well. This is a whole new animal for me and the reading is intense but I find it absolutely exciting. The fact that individual plants that are exposed to certain conditions and thrive as a result only to pass on this code to future seeds of their prodigy is territory that is both foreign and amazing to me. My hope is to one day develop strains that first overwinter well and then produce sweet delicious fruit. Well see..... I feel like my journey has just begun.