Winter Tomato Woes

So far my winter tomato romance has all been in my head. I would probably tell someone else to eat seasonally; enjoy tomatoes in summer. But I am infatuated with the idea of fresh, tasty tomato with our dinner salad. Despite the negative feedback, I have not given up. I am still doing what I can to cultivate a relationship between me and my heirloom tomatoes that’s more than a summer romance.

Not looking too good…
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One Tomato

A tomato starter under a grow light, (and some celery too.)

I have finally accepted that a tomato is not going to grow in winter, not even in a greenhouse, without some extra hours of sunlight. I am down to one tomato starter that is still alive almost half way through December. I am determined for it stay alive, and also to get a few tomatoes from it! So I bought a grow light, my first one ever.

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Dancing with Potted Plants

The hibiscus will stay inside until spring.

It’s the time of year here in Greenville SC when the temperature fluctuates wildly between a high that can reach the eighties to a low in the thirties at night. Yesterday for Halloween we had a deluge of rain that brought with it a warm tropical wind, and we had a high of seventy nine degrees. But I have been anxiously looking at multiple sources for weather reports. I knew that the temperature was going to plummet last night, but of course not to the exact degree. So yesterday I brought my hibiscus and gardenia pots inside, where they will stay until the freeze has passed in spring. Since the temperature dipped to thirty nine degrees last night, I did the right thing. The hibiscus plants are not hardy below forty degrees.

I’m keeping this pot with tomato and celery in my kitchen window.

The annual ritual of moving my potted plants has gotten to be a bigger chore than it used to be. I also brought in one of my avocado trees, and a potted amaryllis that I couldn’t find a spot for in my house last fall. At this point I have used up about all the space that I have in the sunny portion of our living room. I also brought in one of my pots that has both a tomato starter and a celery starter, both only a few weeks old. I put that one in the kitchen window, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do when that tomato vine starts spreading out a bit. I might experiment with keeping it clipped, (sort of like a tomato bonsai?) and see if I can coax a tomato or two from it that way. I squeezed the amaryllis into the guest room window, which already has an avocado tree, a large gardenia, and a bamboo plant that is almost ten years old now.

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Acquiring Winter Wisdom

Recycled celery from the kitchen and tomato starters from the compost will be my first winter crop…

I have tomato starters growing on the deck in little pots right now, very late October. I rescued the sprouts from the compost heap a few weeks ago, because I have a hard time letting go of living things. At the time I had a vague idea about actually starting a greenhouse this winter and miraculously having some of these ripe beauties for a salad in the middle of winter. I’ve heard that it’s possible, but I haven’t done it yet myself.

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