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Preserving & Propagating Tomatoes in Winter

 
Posts: 47
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Hey all,

Thought I'd post some pictures of an experiment I'm conducting in an attempt to keep my favorite variety alive through propagation over winter.

1 - Root cuttings in water. Takes 10-14 days.
2 - Plant cutting in potting mix and wait for new growth to start. Usually another week.
3 - Trim plant back to first leaf node. This removes of all the old foliage, which usually doesn't bounce back from the rooting stage.
4 - End result. Healthy, freshly propagated cutting of the parent plant.

I've found that this method is a good way to keep this variety (Sun Gold) of indeterminate tomato alive and healthy throughout the winter. It would be easy to continually cut and propagate multiple varieties all winter long in a small space and I've found it easier than starting seeds. The cutting, rooting and pruning all seems to slow down the normally vigorous habits of indeterminate tomatoes enabling me to keep more in less space.

I plant to cut ~12" plants into sections approximately 3 weeks prior to the last frost date, which should yield 4-6 plants for transplant. I'll take a cutting from each of the transplants by topping as soon as I finish planting them to ensure I have back-up in case a late frost zaps my first wave. Cuttings also seem to set fruit more quickly than plants of a similar size/age grown from seed so that certainly tips the scales even further in favour of managing cuttings throughout the winter.

I'm not sure how well this would work with other varieties but I'll be trying out a few more before spring - Cosmonaut Volkov & Hawkes Bay Yellow for sure.
tomtom.png
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I found this very interesting. When you cut the plant into 4-6 pieces do you have to include a node somewhere or just a length of stem. Could you post a pic of you doing that or even make a video for amateurs like me?
 
Jay Colli
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Amanda Launchbury-Rainey wrote:I found this very interesting. When you cut the plant into 4-6 pieces do you have to include a node somewhere or just a length of stem. Could you post a pic of you doing that or even make a video for amateurs like me?



Hi Amanda,

Cuttings will root anywhere along the stem so it isn't necessary to have a node below the waterline when rooting but you'll need to leave at least 1 node above ground after pruning with a little sucker (~1.5cms) already formed. I found that the smaller the sucker, the slower the cutting would take to recovered after pruning, which in my situation means that I aim for small suckers so I can delay the vigorous growth as long as possible.

I be taking more cutting soon and I'll try to take more pictures to better document how I take the cuttings.
 
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If you had a heated green house and grew indiscriminate varieties, they would be perennial growers.

Love the idea of rooting cuttings too.
Good post Jay

Redhawk
 
Jay Colli
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:If you had a heated green house and grew indiscriminate varieties, they would be perennial growers.

Love the idea of rooting cuttings too.
Good post Jay

Redhawk



Thanks Redhawk,

I'd love to have a heated greenhouse one day but for now I can be content with over-wintering and propagating a few varieties in the window. Indeterminate Tomatoes seem to be ideal for this as they'll grow well enough to survive even in an east-facing window at 45*N, trellis easily on a single piece of string and can even produce some fruit throughout the winter.

I have the original "mother" plant working on a few short trusses of tomatoes at the moment and 9 rooted cuttings all being pretty harshly pruned on a regular basis to keep them small (and ugly...) until May when they can go out into the greenhouse. I have noticed that the cuttings, if allowed to grow, are very quick to put out flowers. I could see myself collecting the first pint of SunGolds within 2-3 weeks of setting the plants out in the greenhouse.
 
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