Boboe
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Location: Destin, FL ; Zone 8b

Volunteers tomatoes in Florida winter garden

I live in the Florida Panhandle and was gone all summer. When I came home a few weeks ago, I weeded out my overgrown garden plots and pots. I planted my winter garden soon thereafter. In two of my pots I found some short (6" tall maybe) volunteer tomato plants. Should I just let them ride outdoors (other than pulling into the garage if a freeze is forecasted), or would they do better if I had them in warmer temps the whole time? Before long, overnight temps will be between 40 and 60 most nights, and daytime highs in the 50's and 60's. Any tips?

As for which variety they are....I really don't remember what was in these pots. They could be Jubilee, Woodle, or Yellow Pears.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Volunteers

If any of your plants were hybrid, the seeds from them will not breed true and the volunteers will be tomatoes, but not necessarily any more like their parents than you are like yours. Any place I plant with compost from my pile, I get tons of volunteer tomatoes, but they could be anything and I don't usually save them.
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Boboe
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Re: Volunteers

I haven't replanted the pots. These were volunteers from fallen tomatoes this summer. Sure, they could be hybrids of the aforementioned tomatoes. I'm going to grow them, but I don't know the best way to go about it, since I've never planted tomatoes in the fall. I usually start them in January, then transplant outdoors about March 1. Since these are already going, what is a good way to grow them well?

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applestar
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Re: Volunteers

Extended temperature in the 40’s will stunt their growth. 2-3 days tops. A couple of hours in the wee hours of the morning will be OK if it’s going to be sunny or warm up to upper 60’s to 70’s during the day. As long as temps are in low to mid-50’s and above they will be fine outdoors. Once they begin to bloom, fruitset will occur best at mid-60’s and above, and if you don’t see much insect activity, they will benefit from buzzing with an electric toothbrush during the warmest/dry part of the day even in the 50’s.

Are the planters large enough? You might as well uppot them while they are easy to handle. If they are indeterminate or cherries, they will need minimum 10-15 gallon container per plant for best results. Don’t forget supports. Oh and if these are used pots, the potting mix and amendments/fertilizer will need to be refreshed (this can be done when you uppot them).
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Gary350
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Re: Volunteers tomatoes in Florida winter garden

When I lived in Arizona my best tomato crop was planted in winter. As long as temperature do not get below about 40 at night or above 90 in the day tomatoes do good. Any time I have space in the garden for volunteer tomato plants I transplant them it is always interesting to see what they are.

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