I’ve never sown tomato seeds in August before. Back in Ontario, it would be a dumb thing to do, unless you were growing in a greenhouse and could control the temperature. And here in Greece, the advice I’ve been getting is that it is “too late” to start tomatoes in August.
But I’m not so sure. In my area of Greece, which is Attica, and not too far from Lavrio, its reported that the average highs and lows (in Celsius) for the next several months are:
There will also be lots and lots of sunshine. August averages 0 days of rain, September, 1 day, October, 3 days, and November, 4 days.
To me, as long as you can give water yourself, seem to be ideal conditions for growing tomatoes!
Back in Ontario, when I had a very large garden, I would start tomatoes indoors from seed in March, put them out in the garden end of May, and they would be then producing all summer long and right into October, before the frosty nights would begin.
Of course, I was using indeterminate type of tomatoes which will keep producing until they no longer can. I would often end up with so many tomatoes, I’d be busy harvesting in September and October to freeze them and make my own canned tomato sauces – so much of which I never had to buy tomatoes or tomato sauces all winter long. Of course, my garden here is not big enough to do that, while also growing other things in addition to tomatoes, but the point is, I’m pretty sure I can start a new crop of tomatoes here in Greece in August, and have production maybe right into January.
My First Crop Of Tomatoes Did Okay…. but…
I can’t recall exactly when I put in the tomatoes early in the year, but it was later than usual due to the cold winter and spring here this year. I think it was late April – there was cold and snowy weather right into early April here (which many find surprising because they think of Greece as being “tropical,” which it is not).
Generally speaking, they did okay. One died early, likely of a fungus infection after some rains originating in Africa bringing lots of “dirty rain” (mixed with sands from the Sahara – it is not uncommon here) landed. The one tomato plant that I lost, which was really starting to thrive, basically shriveled up overnight. The local horticulturalist said I should spray the remaining ones with copper sulfate, as well as give them a good watering with a copper sulfate solution.
After that, the tomato plants really did pretty good for the most part. The first tomatoes did have some blossom end rot, but subsequent tomatoes were very good, very tasty, and the plants were very productive.
I really don’t know much about the strain of tomato – the place I bought them said they were “Deluca” or “Deluka<" but I can find no information on them. By mid-July, I was wondering if they were a determinate strain, and basically had run their course as they all started to turn brown. But even the grape tomato plant was not doing very well.
Other Conditions Also Could Have Caused This…
There were also some other things going on in July – we had some very hot weather that hit 40. As well, due to an illness and subsequent death in the family, I did quite a bit of traveling, and watering regularly was not happening, although they did get good soakings of water every 3 to 4 days. But it was so hot, sunny, and windy here, I think they probably needed a bit of water every day during that period.
Other Watering Considerations
Everyone here in Greece tells me not to water my tomatoes too often – but I kind of think the advice is a bit odd. Back in Ontario, it rains. In Ireland, it rains even more – sometimes every day a bit of rain, for weeks on end. If it doesn’t rain for a week, that’s weird.
And it never gets as hot as Greece can get in either place.
In addition, back in Ontario, I would water my garden frequently – all of it, including the tomato plants. They did great with lots of watering. In Ireland, they grow great tomatoes.
I think I’ve been a bit hesitant to water against my intuition here in Greece, because of what I hear and read – and now am thinking they could do with more watering, and I should trust my intuition on this, and my past experiences.
Anyways, at this point, I’ve lost at least two more tomato plants, while seeing big improvements with some new green growing on the others. But it will probably be a while before they start producing again, except for one (plus the grape tomato) which has started to really blossom with new flowers.
Tomato Seeds I’ve Started In August
The local garden centre no longer carries tomato plant seedlings, so I had to go looking for seeds. My companion told me she wanted actual round “cherry tomatoes” and not just the “grape tomato” I have growing and that seems to be recovering.
So I went online to see what I could find; figuring things out in Greece where most of the websites are all in Greek, can be difficult but I do my best.
I settled on:
I chose this as it is a “beefsteak” variety of tomato which I like, and that it is also an “early season” (although it gets confusing as some websites claim “mid to late”) type. Considering I am starting new in August, I would like to have some that will be available for harvest in a fairly short time.
This tomato is apparently excellent for the greenhouse where water can be controlled. They don’t like lots of rain. But they do like lots of sunshine. Sounds perfect for me, for over the next several months! I can also save the seeds from these and they will produce next year.
I’m not sure if this is a tomato strain developed in Greece as most of the websites that have any information on it are Greek. This is, I think, a hybrid where the seeds will not produce, but apparently a very disease and pest resistant type of tomato, and are supposedly high producing. I also read that they are ideal for various climates – so considering the next four months in mind, I thought I’d try starting them from seed now, in August. Let’s see what happens!
Other Seeds I Sowed
I did get a whole bunch of vegetable/fruit seeds – partly just to see what will happen, and with some, I seriously expect some good production between now and into January.
I could not get seedlings of any hot peppers except a variety that are considered “ornamental.” They are small, the plant itself is small, and I have two growing in a small pot. I planted one in the garden. They have not grown, and have not produced new flowers. But they do have nice pretty little peppers on them, which do have a “hot” taste to them.
There was a plant growing in the garden that produced another hot pepper; I’m not sure what the variety was – but they were nice with good heat when I tried them. I took some of their seeds and sowed them back in May. They have grown, but have not flowered, so perhaps they are some hybrid that will not produce.
(Update January 26, 2023 – they did produce! Lots of hot peppers eventually would grow on the pepper plants in September and right through to December. In December, the leaves started falling off the plants, but the peppers continued to ripen up).
But to be sure, I decided to get some Cayenne seeds, and considering the weather conditions, I think I should be able to get some cayenne peppers between now and December. Again, I grew Cayennes back in Ontario from seed indoors in March, and planted out in June. Cayenne does like hot temperatures, but with 4 weeks of an Ontario summer above 30, it did fine throughout, even with lower temperatures on average in all the other weeks.
Broccoli is generally considered a “cool weather” vegetable, but I discovered a “warm weather” variety – F1. I also purchased some cool weather variety seeds, which I will start in a few weeks. The “cool weather ones” should produce here over the entire “winter” – unless it is very cold, like last winter was.
(Update January 27, 2023: None of the broccoli I planted from seed did very well. There are about three still in the garden, trying to grow but they were all hit by a pest that loves to feast on broccoli leaves and devour them quickly. It is some kind of caterpillar. I ended up purchasing broccoli seedlings from the local garden centre which did grow but the broccoli heads are not that great. I’m not sure why they did not grow better, but right from when the heads began to form, they were slightly yellow in colour and loosely formed).
Earlier in the spring, I purchased some Stamnagathi seedlings from the local garden centre, but had no clue what it was, how to grow it, or what it was supposed to be like, or turn out like.
It’s apparently considered a “super-food,” but I’m still not sure what it is supposed to do exactly; the four plants that I got seemed to grow weirdly – while one or two produced green leaves, that are supposed to be good for eating, all of them ended up growing long upward stems with hardly any leaves, but had pretty flowers that would open in the morning for a few hours.
When I saw seeds available, I thought I would start all over with them, especially as the seed selling website claimed you can sow these anytime of the year. But I really have no clue about what they need to produce leaves that are harvestable. The plant is apparently a perennial, but I read that in Crete, they just dig up the entire plant when the leaves are ready to eat.
I ended up pulling up the Stamnagathi I had planted in April, as they seemed to be just taking up valuable space I could be growing something else. But let’s see if we can do it all over again 🙂
(Update January 27th, 2023: The Stamnagathi seeds did nothing much. A couple germinated, then promptly died. Not sure what conditions Stamnagathi prefers to germinate but I will do more research and try again).
My companion bought a potted dill plant, but I think it needed more sun than where she wanted it to be on the window sill, with is shaded. It died 🙂
Dill also needs a deep pot because it has a taproot that wants to grow deeply. So, when I saw dill seeds, I thought we could try to have several dill plants, in different parts of the garden, and even in pots – one is guaranteed to thrive as long as the soil is kept moist, but not drenched.
Greek Climate And Vegetable Gardens
In Greece, it really is a possibility to eat from your garden, 12 months of the year. But I think it requires some planning and some knowledge, but also the willingness to experiment and question some things; especially things like “August is too late to start tomatoes.”
There are some months where the thermometer can rise and it will really hurt things like lettuce, green onions, and other cool weather thriving vegetables, but because of the milder winters, with some exceptional times when it can hit -18C, you can probably be growing something in your garden that you can eat.
Due to the climate, I have more plans as well.
I tried to grow zucchini but it has been an utter failure for me and takes up so much space. I don’t know why none of my zucchini produced any thing – am sure it’s not “over watering” but perhaps pollination was not great. I would see flowers, and then the beginnings of fruit, and then they would just stop. I’m giving them another week and then will just dig them all up and make room for something else.
I will make space for more of the following:
Different Lettuce Varieties
Lettuce grows great in cooler weather but needs water. Water is not a problem here, and right now, it’s still pretty hot, but as we head into Autumn, it will cool down and various varieties of lettuce will thrive – perhaps too much for what I need.
(Update January 27th, 2023: Yes, lots of lettuce growing. Romaine has done best – oddly, the red curly lettuce has not grown that well).
Considering the average climate here and to be expected over the next 3-4 months, I think it will be possible to get a crop of green beans. My companion would like to try Long Beans that each bean and pod grows to an enormous length, and delicious – but I have some French Bean seeds that are pretty close. I think there is still time for a crop of both.
I did plant some black-eyed beans/peas a few months ago – two small rows, and they are producing well. It won’t produce enough to eat black-eyed beans/peas all winter, but there will be enough for several meals.
(Update January 27th, 2023: The Yard-Long Beans all germinated in the ground and were growing fairly vigorously into early October, but there was not much flowering. When the cooler weather really set in in late October, the beans pretty much died off. I’ve left the chicken wire fencing up though and will try more yard-long green beans in the spring.
I planted onions back in March, but I think it was too late for the optimum growing season here. And to be sure, I was confused as to what I was actually planting. It’s hard to get the translations right, here in Greece. I thought they were some kind of Green Onion, and indeed, the greens were nice, but then I noticed they were trying to start to form an actual onion bulb.
I do have a little section with more “onions” but am still not sure what kind of onion they will become.
Regardless, I decided to get some onion seeds, which are supposed to turn into … onions … the kind you peel and your eyes are crying. We’ll see 🙂
(Update January 27th, 2023: The onion seeds never germinated. I had sewn a row of onion seeds in front of a row of carrots and behind a row of onion sets. The onion sets, a variety called Yellow Stuttgart, purchased here are doing very well.
I’ve also started some red and white onions from sets and have plenty more that can go in the ground as well.
A Word On Weeds
One of my issues this year is about weeds. In the past, when I’ve had vegetable gardens, I removed anything that to me was a “weed” – something growing in the area that I had intended for something else.
But the problem is, there are green “weeds” tha are very much valued in Greece…. like Vlita (Amaranth) and Purslane. So, what to do? It’s very good for you and can be tasty depending on how you prepare it.
With this in mind, I’ve been reluctant to pull out “weeds” and probably next year, I will have different ideas. I have so much Vlita and Purslane growing, and probably should harvest and freeze it for the winter, while also not worrying about pulling it out by the root. There is just so much of it now.
They are weeds, in the sense they can take over all the other things you are growing, but they are also very healthy and edible. At first, I felt guilty about pulling them out, but seeing as how they grow so prolifically, I should not worry about putting so much into the compost pile.
I have more things in mind, and in some ways, wish I had a bigger garden to try to more things – but I also have some things to learn and figure about Greek Vegetable gardening and how to make it work for me.
Comments? Feel free to leave one below.