Here in Houston we have two tomato growing times. One starts in mid Feb. and ends when the lows for the day are higher than 70’F, one starts mid Aug. and goes until the nights regularly get into the 50’s.
So I went looking for tomato plants last week but none were to be found. Local mom and pop nurseries have tomato plants the big box stores don’t get it and had none. I settled for some ‘Better Boy’ seeds. They have sprouted and I’m proud to say I’ve remembered to water them daily.
I was talking to Nancy at ‘My Garden Spot’ and she told me she had been saving the seeds from the heirloom tomatoes that you find in the supermarket. I don’t know why that thought never crossed my mind, but it hadn’t. I picked up some heirloom tomatoes and will set aside some seeds this week.
To use the seeds from the heirloom tomatoes, save a few on a paper towel and let them dry out for about a week. Then plant as usual. I tried this last fall and the plants were much sturdier and better producing than the plants I had purchased at the store.
Later I learned on Twitter from Plan Garden that tomato seeds should be fermented first. Purchase your heirloom tomatoes and let them turn to mush on your counter before removing the seeds. This is supposed to help with germination, and is reported to kill disease that may be present in the tomatoes and strengthen the seeds.
I’m told they will not germinate otherwise, but mine did fine with out fermenting last fall. So try it either way or both ways. I did some poking around and most of the old school gardeners recommend fermenting your tomatoes before removing seeds.
You’ll want to put your fall tomato plants in pots or some sheltered section of the garden. There are always a few unexpected cool days early on.
I also only filled the pots half to three quarters full with dirt. Tomatoes are a vine and benefit from having the bottom covered with dirt as they grow.
This’ll be my first fall crop down here. I’m pleased with the summer crop progress over earlier crops so I have great hopes for these guys.
Nancy also tells me there tend to be less bugs and other problems with her fall crops.
So start your fall tomatoes!