What if we could grow our own tomatoes and summer squash outdoors year round? Most people use a greenhouse or grow indoors under lights, but we've found that there are tomato plants that will keep producing outdoors all the way into January, if planted in just the right spot. Last year, we had Matt's Wild Cherry tomato growing in the corner of our south-facing brick flowerbed, right next to the front door. The silly thing had gotten tall and gangly, and was reaching inside the door every time we opened it. I can't tell you how many times I had to tell it, "You stay outside," and tuck it's vines back out the door. The poor thing got pinched a few times in the door in its eagerness to get inside our house. The amazing plant was producing new flowers and tomatoes, too, all the way into January, even after many days of hard frosts and snow. Matt's Wild Cherry had appeared there as a donor plant after I'd put compost in the flower bed in the late summer. Rather than tear it out, I let it grow, and was amazed at how long it survived. I think it finally keeled over because it got repeatedly trampled by the dog, by the door, and by sweet old Barney, the barn cat, who liked to curl up underneath it and wait for us to come out for a visit.
That one tomato bush got me thinking about salvaging some of the summer this year, as well, by intentionally placing a few potted plants next to the same south-facing brick flowerbed. It's November 10, and we've had multiple light frosts. The potted plants I lined up along there are doing very well, as you can see below.
The lone zucchini plant has a big squash flower and zucchini fruit growing on it. The rock that I put inside the pot is there to help soak up some of the day's warmth, as a way to help keep the plant warmer into the night. This plant is sitting right where Matt's Wild Cherry was last year, right in the corner up closest to the house, out of the rain. It hardly gets wet here, which means I can only give it as much water as it needs. Summer squash doesn't like to stay too wet. The leaves also won't get very wet here, either, helping to protect it from getting powdery mildew.
Tomato flowers continue to appear on this bush. Further down on the bush, you can see some cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomato varieties are probably a better choice for growing into the winter, since the fruit is less likely to get blight as compared to varieties that bear larger fruit.