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!