Last fall, before the first frost, I took cuttings from my tomatoes and stuck them in a glass of water in my kitchen window. As they grew roots (and this variety evidently is a great rooter!), I moved them each to their own glass of water. (You can read about the first part of this grand experiment here: Perennial Tomatoes.)
I kept them going all winter long, and in late winter/early spring I potted them up, each in their own cup. I ran out of room on the kitchen windowsill. It's the only window that faces the right direction and the cats can't get up in. My cats love to eat anything green. Even if they didn't, they'd have knocked all the pots on the floor. Windows belong to cats, you know.
When the time came - when the days and nights were warm enough and the chance of frost was finally past - I planted them outside. I watered them. I waited for that first red tomato, and waited, and waited. There were flowers, but no fruit.
I was pretty sure it wasn't because they were cuttings. My pepper plants from the feed store didn't even bloom. Was it all the rain we had during the summer? The grasshoppers? Lack of bees? It was a mystery. Then I talked to other people who were having the same problem, so I knew it wasn't just my plants.
At the county fair, I talked to quite a few people who bemoaned the fact that they didn't get enough tomatoes to can. I mentioned it to our visiting former extension agent, who said he'd heard this from many people in several counties. He said that too much water or fertilizer can cause huge plants with no fruit, but if that were the cause there would have been no flowers. During the summer heat, the pollen becomes sterile, and he thinks that's what happened: for some unknown reason, the pollen was sterile. We'll probably never really know the cause.
I told him about my tomato experiment. He said yes, it could work, tomatoes keep growing until "they get frosted". He'd never thought about the concept before, but yes, it could work...
Now I have little green tomatoes, big green tomatoes, orange tomatoes... and delicious red tomatoes! It works! Hopefully the first frost will hold off long enough for all the green ones to ripen.
This will work with any variety of tomato you happen to grow. Some varieties will grow better in water and root better than others. Even if you are currently growing hybrid tomatoes, they will produce fruit true to type, because they are grown from the same plant instead of seeds.
And it will soon be time to take cuttings from these plants to put in water on my kitchen windowsill again. Year Three? I'll give it a try.
Part 1 - 10/10/12
Part 2 - Update #1, Spring
Part 3 - Update #2, Year Two (This post)
Part 4 - How to Take Tomato Cuttings
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