Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Tomatoes In Winter

High Country, Oregon Spring and Siberian tomatoes

After summer ended, and I had pulled the last withering tomato plants out of the ground and canned the last few pounds of crushed tomatoes, I started wondering if I could grow tomatoes year-round in our mild LA winter. Garden-fresh salsa in February sounded too tempting to pass up!

Since I didn’t have time to start from seed, I wandered through one of my favorite nurseries, Moneta Nursery in Gardena, and came across some starter plants for “winter tomatoes.” One of them was actually called a Siberian tomato… now if that doesn’t thrive in cold rainy weather, I don’t know what will!

I ended up buying three plants to experiment with — Siberian tomato, Oregon Spring tomato, and High Country tomato — all of which seemed appropriately named. They’re all early varieties that are supposed to be resistant to cooler weather… but with tomatoes, it could be hit or miss.

They were planted in late October, grew steadily through November, and even survived our massive rainstorms and cold front in December. Little green tomatoes appeared on the vines and have slowly ripened over the last few weeks. The warm weather in January seemed to have revived the plants because there are more tomatoes popping up now, even as the plants look like they’re about to keel over and die.

While they’re not as big or bright or bountiful as my summer tomatoes, I can’t really complain — I have organic tomatoes! In February! That’s practically an oxymoron.

And though I don’t have nearly enough for salsa, I have plenty to toss into my salads… which beats those plastic-looking, styrofoam-tasting, supermarket tomatoes any day!

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

8 Comments

  • Tiariana
    June 2, 2021 at 1:38 am

    The Siberian tomatoes are GREAT! They work perfectly on our SUMMERS ;D true story… greetings from Finland! This is one of my favorite garden blogs. Even though i do envy ur climate!!

    Reply
  • Rebecca Lingle
    June 27, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I’m in South Carolina. Our winters are pretty mild, but we do get frost. This probably won’t work for me, but I loved reading about it anyway! 🙂 Like you, I’m always trying to think of ways to use more of what I grow for longer periods of time. (I dream about having a greenhouse one day) I just recently discovered your blog and I love it – can’t wait for your cookbook. Thanks for writing!!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      July 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you for the sweet comment, Rebecca. I hope you enjoy the other posts as well. 🙂

      Reply
  • ghzoc
    October 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Hello Linda 🙂 I just sowed siberian tomato today. Hopefully they could survive through the winter. I live in Las Vegas and winter temperatures here could go as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Did you have to cover yours every night?

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      October 16, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Vegas winters are pretty brutal (I grew up there). Unless your tomatoes are protected from frost somehow, I doubt they’ll survive. In SoCal, we don’t have frost so tomatoes grow easily here (albeit slowly due to the shorter days).

      Reply
      • ghzoc
        October 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm

        Thank you for the advice Linda. I will try to take several measures to protect it from frost and see it if it will survive. Hopefully in few years I could move there in Socal so that I could enjoy gardening as much as you haha 🙂

        Reply
  • Megan
    May 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Which winter varieties did the best?

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      May 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      I’ve had good luck with a number of different Siberian and Russian types. They grow slowly through winter, but go gangbusters once the days get longer and warmer in spring.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.