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Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 1, 14 at 18:49

Just wanted to share some photos of my organic Winter tomato trial. The concept is to plant out a tomato crop in September so that you can harvest tomatoes all through the Winter. I've been doing this for years in ground off my patio, as it retains heat very well. In recent years, I've planted fruit trees in those in ground locations, so this year I decided to try EarthBoxes directly on that patio. So far, so good.

Here they are in October:

Here they are now:

These Winter tomatoes won't win any beauty contests, but they have been of excellent eating quality without any BER or other problems. I'm using the Dr. Earth organic fertilizer in the EarthBoxes.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

Many people, even those of us in the snow country, grow or have grown tomatoes all winter. Low light conditions for many of us makes it a bit difficult but not impossible.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato growing in winter


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 15:52

I would like to welcome anyone that has tried to grow tomatoes organically through Winter to discuss their experiences.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

In Z10 (Phoenix AZ, SoCal, etc ... it's easy to grow tomatoes year round as long as it doesn't freeze.

They ripen slowly, but as long as the pollinators are active, it works. I'm not doing it now for lack of time.

These were "Ruby Pusa" tomatoes from India, growing in a compost bin under a mesquite. Slightly sheltered, picked when they first started to ripen, and brought inside.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes in January


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

How is the sweet vs acid quality...specifically the sweetness...on the Dec+ ripening toms vs in-season ripening toms?

Here in NC you can grow them under glass, but you need to bring supplemental lighting as well as additional climate heat in order to keep the sweet/acid balance from tipping too far to acid.

Variety type helps, but no variety type can take care of the sweet/acid balance issue on it's own.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 21:53

nc-crn, taste is very subjective. These are 'Early Girl', which perform very well in my locale. Would you expect the flavor to be different in the Winter? Personally, I can't tell any difference.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

I don't know how to gauge them in SoCal being that I'm 3000 miles and a few climate ticks away.

Even a couple states South of me in Georgia, winter tomatoes grown under glass aren't as sweet as the same varieties grown in ideal summer conditions without supplemental help.

Regional differences of harvested crops on the margins of seasons (both early and late) is an interest of mine.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

If you are trying to compare a tomato purchased in a store, which is picked long before it has begun to develop the sugars and such that make the tomato taste, to one grown in a home garden and picked at the proper time you are wasting your time. All the fruits and vegetables sold in a grocers today are picked way too early to allow for sorting, packing, and shipping to reach the grocers shelves before they start to rot. The only place, other than your garden, to get fruits and vegetables that have developed their flavors is at your local farmers market when those fruits and vegetables are in season on your area.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

I'm not trying to do that. I'm well aware of those issues.

I'm trying to gauge the effect of less quality daylight and lower temperature on the flavor (sweet vs acid) of tomatoes in various parts of the world by sourcing out the question to people growing them...and presumably have grown the same variety during more favorable times of year.

Some people notice little difference in the sweet/acid balance...for some it's quite drastic in flavor.

It's informal, but I've been doing it for years. I have a semi-weird interest in garden behavior in varying climates.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 13:41

@kimmsr, do you garden in the winter organically?

It should be noted that there are a number of excellent mass produced tomatoes that are readily available at the grocery store. Kumato and Campari come quickly to mind.

@nc-crn, sounds like an interesting endeavor. For me, tomatoes are an important ingredient in so many dishes that I just try to have them around all the time. I don't can or process anything, everything I grow is for fresh eating/cooking. My palate may not be developed well enough to note subtle differences in tomatoes. It's one of those "I know what I like when I taste it" sort of things. If a tomato is tasty, produces well, is disease and pest resistant, it's a winner for me.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

The winter tomatoes were less flavorful than the ones from earlier in the season. Also, the cooler temperatures affected the texture - they had the "grainy" texture you see in tomatoes stored in a refrigerator.

Being picked mostly green and ripened inside probably didn't help.

To be honest, the Mexican field-grown Romas from Food City were better.

It was an experiment, and I was growing them mostly to get more seeds for some Indian friends. It's an Indian heirloom variety and they only had a few seeds to work with. During the summer and fall I was vine ripening them and saving seeds. It's a very juicy, tart variety and makes excellent curries and Indian sauces. Definitely not a slicer or salad tomato.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 14:00

lazygardens, I have seen a number of "mealy" Winter grown tomatoes in the past. There hasn't been a single one from the EarthBoxes yet this season. This leads me to believe that the mealiness may be tied to water availability/uptake and not just cold over night temps.


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RE: Organic Winter tomatoes in EarthBoxes

"To be honest, the Mexican field-grown Romas from Food City were better."

Being from the East Coast...and a lover of Arizona (especially Tucson)...I am super jealous of both Food City and Sprouts.

We have Whole Foods here...and their idea of having a sale is letting you buy something slightly overpriced rather than greatly overpriced. Sprouts puts it to shame...and Food City always has avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, etc for give-away prices no matter the season.


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