Growing tomatoes in Winter

Asked October 21, 2019, 10:11 PM EDT

I like to grow during the winter in my community garden plot and have done this about 4 winters. However, this year as I was getting the garden planted for winter I found there was a volunteer tomato. I decided to leave it and see what happens. It set the first blossoms this week and I'm wondering if this is a fools errand or do I have some chance of getting it to produce? Assuming I have a chance, shoukd I fertilize? There aren't pollinators under the plastic so how do I get it to pollinate? Any other precautions I should take? Thank you.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Below I’ve listed general requirements for tomatoes. You will be battling both weather and lack of sun. Consider transplanting to a pot and growing indoors or in a well lit garage. On the other hand, you have nothing to lose by testing for yourself.

  • Soil temperature should be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil thermometers are fairly inexpensive.

  • Air temperature should be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for good performance.

  • Direct sunlight of seven or more hours daily for good growth and fruit ripening.

  • Pollination can be accomplished by shaking the plant.

  • You need to know your cultivar and type to determine growth habit and length of season.

  • Tomato cultivars mature over a wide range of time, commonly from 50 days for early cherry types to 60 days for early, full-size fruit types; 75 days for mid-season maturing cultivars; and 85 days for later, full-season cultivars from transplants.

  • Plants under plastic row covers accumulate two to three times more heat than those without covers. Remove the covers when plants begin to flower or if temperatures under the covers become excessive. Don’t allow temperatures to exceed 90°F for more than 2 or 3 consecutive days.