Winter for the Tomato Grower, Part 1: Your-End-of-Season Questions Answered

| 12/1/2015 11:07:00 AM

Tags: tomatoes, heirloom gardening, heirloom vegetables, garden planning, North Carolina, Craig LeHoullier,


For much of the country, the tomatoes we are eating now are not the prized specimens plucked from our gardens. They are emerging from our cupboards (dried and canned) or freezers – certainly wonderful enhancements to our cooking endeavors, but not elucidating the summer time level of excitement.

As I type this on November 19, we’ve yet to experience a frost here in Raleigh, N.C. – but it is just around the corner. Just today I harvested lots of sweet and hot peppers and the last few eggplant from the still-thriving, container-bound plants.

For those who start their own seeds, the “busy” part of tomato season can start as early as mid-February, and attention becomes consistent, winding up when the temperatures finally dip below 32 degrees F. In many areas, that means October (or for me this year, late November – quite unusual, to be sure!).

That all adds up to up to nine months of busy. The end of the growing season doesn’t equate to a long, tomato thoughts-free sabbatical, however.

It is important to use the three months of the coming respite wisely. In fact, the way that a gardener spends those three months are the key to ensuring that our gardens provide more and more delight each year.

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