The Q&A Archives: Greenhouse Tomatoes

Question: I have some early girl, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes in my garden. They are all doing surprisingly well after 2 brutal heat waves. My garden is part of a public garden and the other gardeners warned me about early and late blights being constant problems there. So far everything looks perfect. The leaves are all green and broad, right down to the bottom. The plants (30 total) are all loaded with perfectly shaped tomatoes. NO catfacing or rings or cracks or blossom end rot. I kept watering every 2 days thruout June since it was so dry. I have straw around all the plants to prevent splashing. Enough bragging about my plants, here is the question. Can I bring my best early girl and cherry in to the sunroom in the fall? They are both indeterminate and should keep bearing. If I got all the root mass into a
big pot would the move be too shocking for the plants? Do they have a life span? If this would not work can you recommend a variety that I can plant from seed for my sunroom? At 4 bucks a pound for vineripe tomatoes I just can't buy them, so we really miss out on tomatoes about 9 months of the year. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Answer: Sounds like you have the green thumb for tomatoes! Tomatoes are treated as annuals in climates where frosts kill them, but they will live longer if they are protected from the cold. But most modern varieties aren't bred for longevity, but only produce well for the first season. So you'll do better to start some new plants from seed soon, transplant them into pots, and keep them in your sunroom. Tomatoes need at least 8 hours of intense sun to produce blooms and fruit, so you'll need to use supplemental lighting to keep them in production during the winter. High-intensity discharge lamps (HID) are recommended, though they are expensive. You'll have to do a cost comparison to see if it pays to grow your own or purchase vine-ripened tomatoes at the market this winter. Alternately, you can try regular flourescent grow lights or spot lamps, though they tend to lack the intensity necessary to promote fruiting. Here are some suppliers of HID equipment: Worm's Way -; Harvest Moon Hydroponics -; Charley's Greenhouse Supplies -

Grow container varieties of tomato, since they are best adapted to growing in confined spaces. Best of luck!

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