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October 12, 2015

Perennial Tomatoes, Year Five



For the past four years I've been taking cuttings of my tomato plants and trying to keep them alive over the winter. I call them perennial tomatoes because they are parts of the same adult plants, not a second generation.


I had two successful years where the cuttings survived, and I planted them in the spring and they grew and produced, but the past two years the cuttings have died shortly after I brought them inside. Last year I think the culprit was spider mites.


This year I took cuttings early, so that if I have problems I'll have time to get some more before frost kills the tomato plants in my garden.

First I found a sucker on one of the Cherokee purple plants. This was the first year I've grown this variety and I didn't get to taste even one - we had not-good-for-tomato-growing weather this summer. I also took one cutting from one of the Juliet plants, a hybrid. Now that the weather has cooled off there are half a dozen long green tomatoes on this plant. I also took three cuttings from my one and only Arkansas Traveler plant.


I set them in clear plastic cups with an inch or so of filtered water inside, so that the cuttings could grow roots.


In the past, I've left the cuttings in water for most of the winter, planting them when the roots were so long and thick that I had no alternative. This year I'm planting them in soil as soon as they have roots. I used plastic cups from the grocery store with holes punched in the bottom with a knife, and half-filled with potting soil.


The Oklahoma weather was crazy this year. As of October first I'd had exactly three red tomatoes and two handfuls of yellow pear tomatoes. Even the canning entries at our county fair were low this year because no one had a garden bounty of anything can-able. But gardeners are optimists; we hope that next year will be better, right?


We'll see how it goes. I hope I'll be successful in keeping these cuttings alive over the winter. I know it can be done: I was successful the first two years I did this. Wish me luck.


Read about the experiment here:
Part 1 - Perennial Tomatoes 
Part 2 - Update #1, Spring
Part 3 - Update #2, Year Two
Part 4 - How to Take Tomato Cuttings

Perennial Tomatoes, Year Four




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