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January 24, 2012

Growing tomatoes year round

Well, here it is, end of January in Florida, and I am having the best crop of tomatoes, ever.

It was my goal, and a dream, to learn how to have tomatoes all year long. Last winter I had a greenhouse, but it was not heated, so I lost all my tomatoes. It was devastating. But this winter I retrofitted the greenhouse with a heat lamp (red lamp, 250 watts) and a space heater with a fan, and my beautiful tomatoes survived the frost. I have been harvesting them, little by little, for about a month now, and have plenty of tomatoes ripening.

Judging by the number of green tomatoes on the vine, and the flowers, I should have a continuous harvest till at least April, which is when regular tomatoes should start fruiting. I am very happy with my experiment. Now, the next challenge is summer heat, which I plan on combating with shade cloth.


  1. What varieties of tomatoes are you growing this year?

    I started using shade cloth last year which helped my strawberries a lot. This year I will use it on tomatoes to see how long I can keep them going.

  2. Believe it or not, I am down to just one variety - grape tomatoes (pictured in the post). Here's the reasons: first, caterpillars cannot make a home inside such a small tomato, so damage is minimal. Second, they are extremely prolific. Third, they serve well as a salad tomato, as well as canned tomato - sauce or salsa.

    Originally I got the seeds from just purchased tomatoes at Sams. They sell them at Publix as well.

  3. Caterpillars are a real problem no doubt along with birds pecking my tomatoes when they start to turn ripe. I have to build frames with bird netting around them to keep the birds out.

    One thing I found is that the bird netting has such small holes that the moths for the most part can't get in to lay eggs on the tomatoes. So I have very few caterpillars.

  4. Tim, that's excellent idea. How do you put bird netting around the tomatoes? Do you have a picture or a blog post on your blog?

    1. I took an idea from "All New Square Foot Gardening"

      and made trellises from 2 foot long 1/2" rebar and cut to size metal electrical conduit. I then put these around the perimeter of the tomato bed and then would wrap the netting around the sides. Then cut another piece and place it over the top. The rebar is pounded into the ground and the conduit fits right over it to hold up the trellises or frames. It works real well. I used clips similar to these

      to hold the net in place. I recently bought a bunch of 1" pvc and connectors for making green houses to make frames and trellises with. They will be easy to put together and take down so when it get's too cold they will be easy to wrap with row covers or bird netting or even top with shade cloth. When I make them I will post pics.



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