Growing Tomatoes – Fall 2014

Growing tomatoes in the Fall?  Well yes, if you live down here in South Florida.  We usually can’t grow much during the summer here, so we have a Winter/Spring and a Fall/Winter season.  While it does kinda mean I don’t have many garden-fresh tomatoes during the summer, it also means  that I have homegrown tomatoes in the winter.

And this year, I got a big surprise — a greenhouse!  I just put it up in time for Fall planting, so I’ll be making notes on how it works for keeping my babies warm when the temps make it down to freezing.  (Yes, even where I am in South Florida, we get freezes once or twice a year.)  It’s unheated, so I’ll be using passive heating in the winter.

Enough of that for the moment; let’s talk about what’s going into the garden!

Tomatoes for Fall and Winter

I will admit, I really slacked off this year on planting my seeds.  By the time August rolled around, I decided to get some plants from a big box store to augment my seeds.  Hmmm, it was a good idea, even if the first two plants (Yellow Pear and Solar Fire) bit the dust!

I am moving my garden to being all containers, and the first two locations I tried weren’t very good for tomatoes (oops).  The pots are really big and heavy (most are between 15 and 25 gallons), so tomatoes won’t be going back into them.  Instead, those will be lettuce and herbs, which seem to be happy there.

So here’s what’s coming up for this Fall and Winter for the rest of my containers!

  • Black Cherry:   This is a cherry tomato (as you might guess) and it’s black.  It’s the first time for me growing it, so I am anxious for the plants to get big enough to move to their permanent places in the garden.  These are supposed to be absolutely luscious!  Early season tomato, indeterminate.
  • Brandy Boy:  A new one on me (never heard of it before), and my guess is that it has a Brandywine and one of the “Boy” (Big Boy, Better Boy, etc.) tomatoes in the background.  Anyway, it’s supposed to be a more manageable plant (Brandywine gets awfully big!) and earlier as well.  Looking forward to see how this one grows — and tastes!  My guess is that it’s a mid-season tomato and indeterminate.
  • Oregon Spring:  I have been meaning to grow this one for several years, and have never gotten around to it.  This year seems like the time is right.  Early season tomato, determinate.
  • Manyel:  Also known as “Many Moons”, this is a yellow indeterminate tomato that is mid-sesason.  It’s supposed to be pretty tasty, but I will admit to an ulterior motive — I want to try a cross between Brandy Boy and Manyel.  You see, the color yellow is recessive, so if I make the cross and get red tomatoes…I know the cross worked.  And I have absolutely no idea what the progeny will turn out like (which is half the fun)!

I also have some Better Bush (determinate) and some Gregori’s Altai (indeterminate) plantlets.  Both are short-season. so I should get a nice crop in before Christmas.  (Or even by Thanksgiving for the Better Bush, since it’s way further along.)

And speaking of Christmas, that is when I have my next round of seed-starting.  I am thinking that Isis Candy Cherry, Pruden’s Purple, Arkansas Traveler and a bunch of my Manyel x Brandy Boy crosses.  But I’ll make the final decision in December.  😉

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