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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:06 pm
Location: calgary

Questions about overwintering tomatoes

ok so i have started a few tomato plants and pepper plants indoors. they are still quite small and the largest is about 10" tall. i would love to grow these indoors until they are much larger as the cold weather in calgary can kill them pretty easily. this is my first time so please excuse any ignorance. i just have a few questions.

-at what point should the plants be tied to a sturdy stick or net for support?
-is 6 or 7 months too long to wait to move outside?? (not planning on putting them in the ground, just larger buckets)
- is an 8-4-5 organic fert good??

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:40 pm
Location: Wyoming

I have heard of people overwintering their peppers inside, but I haven't heard the same of tomatoes. I suppose it could be done, but the conditions would have to be ideal, mirroring their favorite outdoor conditions: moist heat and lots of sun and plenty of room to spread their roots and foliage. A lot would depend on the type of tomatoes and peppers, too. I've grown most varieties of peppers in containers, but only certain tomatoes thrive under those restrictions.

Even in Calgary, you can set them out at this time of the year. If they're in containers, you can bring them in at night, or stick them in the garage. The gardening stores have these cute little trollies you can set big containers on for easy transport. A kid's red wagon might do every bit as well.

If you plant them in the ground, which is what they will like the most, you can easily cover them at night. I had to cover my tomatoes on June 8 here in Wyoming because the temp was supposed to drop below freezing. I just put buckets over them and covered the whole bunch with quilts.

I stake or use cages on my tomatoes as soon as I know they have recovered from transplanting. We have high winds down here. Plus, babies don't resent the intrusion of a sharp object into their root system as much as adults do.

I think your fertilizer has too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorus and potassium for tomatoes. You might wind up with tons of foliage and no fruit.

Oh. If and when you decide to move them outside, do so in stages. They need to become gradually accustomed to the wind and the sun.

I hope this helps :-)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:27 am

Peppers can be grown inside in a shade as they are hermaphrodites. However tomatoes require a large amounts of sun and a quick draining soil. You need not tie them to stick for support at all. Every plant has its way of supporting its fruits. tomatoes should be grown outside and should be protected from wind. you will get yield in 45-50 days for both plants. which means in less then 2 months. if you have planted them 6 months back you should have harvested it twice or even thrice by now.

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

overwintering tomatoes

Agree with what's been said that it's very difficult to overwinter tomatoes unless you have a really professional set up with plenty of room, tons of artificial light, humidifier, etc.

For next year realize that your average last frost date there is about May 22, average first frost date is Sept 16. So that's your outdoor growing window.

Start tomato seeds indoors under lights about mid march to first of April and include some quicker maturing varieties like Early Girl. By the time frost is gone you will have big tomato plants ready to go.

I usually rush my season a little depending on the actual weather forecasts at the time. (Those average dates are based on historical records over past 100 yrs and don't account for global warming. So it says in the past 50% of the time there's been no frost in Calgary after 5/22, that means these days less than 50% of the time will there be frost after that date.) If you put it out a few days early and there is a frost you can always cover it.

Early Girl will have ripe fruit two months after it is planted out. So if you have good sized plants ready to go by end of May, you will be eating tomatoes by end of July. They will keep going until frost. When the weather forecast says frost coming in Sept, pick all the remaining green tomatoes and bring them in. Some of them will ripen up indoors.

So for the work you will only have two months of fresh vine ripened tomatoes, where I have almost four and people south of me have more than that. But if you really love home grown tomatoes, it may be worth it to you! :)

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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 7:21 pm
Location: Connecticut

For what it's worth: the first summer we lived in the mountains of Western Maine, I found a couple of small volunteer tomato plants coming up in a pile of composted horse manure in late July. The ridiculously short growing season there for warm-weather crops is over by Labor Day, so I stuck the plants in pots, and when it cooled down in late August, I brought them inside and put them on a south-facing sun porch to see what would happen. The result was that we had fresh tomatoes from October or early November until February. I have no idea what kind of plants they were, but the fruits were medium-sized and just as tasty as the ones we grew outside. I guess they got enough sun, even with the short days, but the plants ran out of gas once they'd produced a decent crop. The porch had floor-to-ceiling windows, and we've never had another house with that kind of exposure, so I haven't tried it since, but obviously, it can be done under the right conditions. BTW, we had a big wood stove and the humidity in the house was very low, but I kept the plants well-watered and they did fine.

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