I'm in zone 6 and I'm looking at a variety of options to determine which is best for direct seeding tomatoes/peppers. I can't start indoors because we don't heat the house during the day- but feel free to recommend an alternative, we have a huge south facing window its just unheated. ...and I always like to pretend that the economic collapse will happen tomorrow so I'm prepared. Anyways what are yalls success/failure tips and experiences with the following:
1. Growing them under a cloche
2. Growing early tomatoes- which varieties (no hybrids please)
3. Other options?
Decades ago when I lived in NJ I had a neighbor who started his tomatoes in a sunken cold frame built along the south facing wall of his house. A simple old window was the cover. He started his seeds in there quite early, though I don't recall the date anymore. On frost nights he covered the window with a wet blanket. Thus he never had his tomato seedlings get frost nipped. While this isn't direct seeding, it is a way to produce one's tomato transplants without heat or electricity.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
You might also check out Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest book. He speaks alot about Cold Frames and such. He also has said that if you put a second covering over your Cold Frame you get even better temps. I'm looking into direct seeding also, just because I want to see what a plant with an undisturbed root system will do, and also try to get early tomatoes.
First decide on what general type of tomato that you want (paste, cherry, beefsteak, etc.)
Then start planting some of what you like *when* your normal planting date for other items would be. The experiment has thus begun.
See which ones make it....even if you have to help some through by tarping them near the end of the season.
Take the best performers and repeat....chances are over a few years, you will select for variants that will *generally* make from seed to fruit.
We have a paste variety that now pretty reliably "volunteers" from the previous year's seed that was left in the garden.....zone 4 near Fargo. We don't
trust it to do so and plant indoors for security, but have not been disappointed in many years now at how many plants make it to harvest from volunteer.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”― Albert Einstein
We've had great success from simply chopping tomatoes up and putting them in our dog's foodbowl with her normal daily meal. She loves them!
Months later, tomato plants will appear in the strangest of places. Those that are in a suitable microclimate and not in the way of normal foot traffic go on to produce passable tomatoes. Natural selection.
Idk about a short season, but yellow pears have done well for me direct seeding in Houston, TX. We do get a week of freezing once or twice each winter, and if I grow my toms in buckets and bring them in during those times, Iget two years of almost nonstop production. And the chickens make them sprout all over the place by spreading the seed for us
My direct seeding experiment this year is going great. I recommend Sweet Cherriette, Jagodka, Anmore Dewdrop, and saved seed from the Sungold hybrid as the four fastest. Almost as fast were Krainiy Sever, Forest Fire, and Tumbler F1.
This is a good tomato year for me so other than speed I would say almost anything under 75 DTM worked ok for me which is about the same as for transplanting.