Tomatoes Are Forever

Among the many obnoxious things that San Diegans brag about is the ability to grow tomatoes nearly year-round. But the tales are true; I’ve seen tomatoes going strong in February.

I didn’t think this super-long tomato-growing season related to me, not only due to my novice tomato-growing skills but also due to the fact that we’re about a dozen miles inland (from the Pacific Ocean) and in a micro-climate that gets a handful of frosty mornings. Every year we see our big beautiful bougainvillea die back completely, only to return bigger and more vibrant every spring. In other areas of San Diego, bougainvilleas go strong year-round.

But then I saw this:

Volunteer tomato plant popping up in my garden.

It’s a brand-new tomato plant! I love volunteers! Since I have a lot of little flowers that grow in this bed, I didn’t notice it at first. But it’s pretty unmistakably a tomato plant and I went about pinching suckers right away. I don’t yet know what kind it is (anyone care to guess?). Next to it (not pictured) is a volunteer eggplant, and it’s mid-October. If this lovely little tomato plant and her eggplant friend want to grow, I may just build a greenhouse around them.

I also noticed this:

Volunteer #2 decides to sprawl all over the front yard. You can see a hint of the beautiful bougainvillea in the back.

Another volunteer!?! That’s right. In a part of the front yard I rarely visit, I found another volunteer tomato plant. I picked two cherry tomatoes a couple days ago and ate them. They were sweet and delicious. The plant, which has not been fertilized or cared for AT ALL, is producing heavily, with no plans to slow down any time soon. (I interviewed the plant and this was her official statement.)

Close-up of the volunteer in the front yard in mid-October. Gorgeous little fruit.

Finally, in the vegetable garden, one of my potted tomato plants is still going strong. And lucky for me, it happens to be my favorite variety, new to our garden this year.

My favorite variety of tomato in summer 2019.

It’s called a Japanese “Aiko” tomato and it’s sweet and delicious. It will definitely be coming back to our garden in 2020.

What tales of tomato longevity have you heard? Do you have secrets to keeping them going year-round? Should we be growing tomatoes in winter? Does that take away their summer specialness? And most important, what are your favorite varieties?