Perennial Tomatoes, Year Two

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

Last fall, before the first frost, I took cuttings from my tomato plants 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.)

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

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.

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

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 local gardeners who were having the same problem, so I knew it wasn't just my plants.

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

Still, it was a mystery. I talked to quite a few people at the county fair who regretted that they didn't get enough tomatoes to can. I mentioned it to our 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. We'll probably never really know the cause.

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

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...

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

When cooler weather arrived, I finally had little green tomatoes, big green tomatoes, orange tomatoes... and finally, delicious red tomatoes! My experiment worked, I had tomatoes from last year's clones! Hopefully the first frost will hold off long enough for all the green fruit to ripen.

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

Will you give this a try? Some varieties will grow better in water and root better than others, but it's worth trying. 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.

Year two of my perennial tomato plant experiment.

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.

Check out these updates on the perennial tomato experiment:
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
Part 5 - Perennial Tomatoes: Year Four
Part 6 - Perennial Tomatoes: Year Five



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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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