Tomato Plant Champions!

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cherry tomatoes ripening up in February

They have been through so much: Gale force winds, snow, ice pellets, a few nights of below freezing temperatures. Yet these tomato plants keep living and growing!

Back in August, I was looking at the average temperatures for the coming months in my area and was curious if I could sew some tomato seeds at that time, and perhaps get some tomatoes by December, before the much cooler weather of January and February hit. While it’s not idea weather in November and December for growing tomatoes, I thought perhaps that maybe I could still get a few fresh tomatoes from my garden.

I had nothing to lose except the time in trying and seeing what might happen. Almost everyone told me it was a pointless exercise, but I’m not one to simply accept a “majority opinion” but like to find things out for myself.

So, what was the result of my experiment? (Photos taken today, down below).

I’m impressed with the tomato plants that have survived! These things are champs!

Big Healthy Tomato Plants In A Greek Winter

Many people think of Greece as having a tropical climate but in reality, it can get pretty darn cold in the winter. While it’s rare for the part I am in (the south coast of Attica in a region called Lavreotiki), it’s not uncommon for Northern Greece to experience long periods of below freezing temperatures, lots of snow, and a Southern Ontario type of winter. Here in this area, the climate is such that it can and does snow (last year, we saw a blizzard that shut things down for a week), and there have been several nights so far where the temperature has dipped below 0C.

But back in August, my thinking at the time was that I might still have some time to sew some tomato seeds, get them into the garden after they had germinated, take some care of them, and have some tomatoes to for my peanut butter and tomato sandwiches, and cherry tomatoes for salata.

I had two varieties of large tomato seeds that I purchased – something called “Optima F1” and “Marmande,” and a cherry tomato which I think was also an “F1.” I had marked the seedling containers with the type of seed I had sewn, but unfortunately over the time they seeds were in them, the marks had worn off and when I transplanted them, I had no idea what was what, or even which where the cherry tomatoes.

Almost all of the seeds germinated but they did not all do well after transplanting the seedlings into the garden. The majority were eaten by something or other, but four survived. Three thrived, including two cherry types.

The cherry tomato plants have done exceptionally well and are loaded with ripening fruit – and I have picked ripe ones several times thus far, and enjoyed the big burst of juiciness and flavour they give.

The other two – one is straggling but still living although it has not grown much. Yet another of the large tomato types has flourished as far as growth and flowering, but so far has not produced any fruit – I suspect pollination is a problem with fewer flying insects around at this time of the year. I am thinking and hoping that if I can get it through the next month, it might be a real champion producer. Of course, it may end up doing nothing, as well.

Tomatoes Are Perennial

While most of us in the northern hemisphere think of tomatoes as annuals, they are in fact perennials in their native tropical zone, and can live for many years. In my research, I’ve discovered that you can even overwinter tomato plants in cold climates where the frost and cold will kill them. I did not use any of the methods mentioned in that article – I was only testing at first, if I could sew seeds in August and have tomatoes by December, in this climate.

Three Tomato Plants In February Photos

The two cherry tomato plants:

cherry tomatoes on tomato plant

cherry tomato plant growing in february

Optima F1 OR Marmande Variety:

f1 optima or marmande tomato variety growing in february

All three of these tomato plants are obviously very hardy and while I will likely start sewing more seeds soon, I think I will take some cuttings from these robust plants and try to propagate them that way, for the coming summer season. Whatever they are, they truly are tomato champions, having made it thus far through the winter!

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