Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Great Tomato Experiment

If you are following me on BeGreenInfo (and you totally should be!), you may have seen my recent post about Extending the Growing Season.  Especially with the ultra-funky weather we had this year, I need to squeeze every spare day of growing season out of the year.

This year, I'm trying an experiment that so far seems to be working.  If you still have a healthy tomato plant, particularly one you grew in a container, I invite you to play along to see if we can get some winter tomatoes!

This year, I had a ton of volunteer tomato plants, and I also had a lot of finished compost.  So, after I finished top dressing the garden, I started filling large pots with the beautiful humus, and in one I put a variety of leftover veggie plants to see how they would do.  I put a pumpkin vine, a cucumber vine, a pepper plant, and a volunteer tomato.

The tomato quickly took over the pot.  It grew three feet tall and smothered the other plants, but it didn't give any fruit.  I chalked that up to uneven weather and the fact that I had a volunteer in there rather than a container-specific variety.

However, a couple of weeks ago, a cold night was threatening, and I looked at this lovely healthy tomato plant with some tiny buds, and I couldn't bear to let it freeze.  So I brought it into the sunroom. 

The buds quickly opened.  Not knowing if it would really take to self-pollination or if it needed some help, I got out my trusty paint brush and went to work, going from flower to flower and brushing the pollen.  I sang some Barry White tunes to put the plant in the mood.

Lo and behold, I now have about six small tomatoes that are growing by the day.  I'm very hopeful that I will have a few tomatoes to harvest later than ever before.  If I could eat a fresh tomato on my mid-November birthday, I will be a happy girl indeed.  Just to up the odds, I'm going to keep singing Barry White.

What tricks are you using to keep your garden producing?
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