An Experiment…..

tomato transplants

The vegetables in my garden made it through very well, except for my tomatoes.  I know, I know…..some of you experienced vegetable growers may be asking why I had tomatoes growing in my garden during the winter.  Well, I decided to do an experiment – all vegetable growing calendars recommend planting tomatoes in early spring and none of them say anything about planting them in the fall.

But, our local big box stores had tomato transplants for sale and I bought two and planted them in early October, just to see how they would do.

tomato transplants

Tomato transplants, Tomato plants in the back right corner.

Well, they grew like crazy as you can see in the photo above and I even had to cut them back a bit to keep them from taking over the garden.  Then when freezing temperatures were forecast, I covered them well, hoping that would be enough to protect them from the cold.

tomato transplant

As you can see….my tomatoes did not fare too well.

Am I sorry I bought them and planted them in the fall?  No I’m not.  One thing that I think is fun about gardening, is experimenting.  I love the excitement of seeing how a particular plant will do in my garden….especially if there is a question of whether it will fare well or not.

I believe people with green thumbs should not be afraid of experimenting in their garden.  Sometimes that is the only way to learn what will flourish and what won’t in your garden.  Since each garden is different and can play host to a variety of micro-climates, it is fun to experiment with different plants.

What lesson did I learn from my experiment?

Don’t plant tomatoes in the fall in my zone 9a garden.

WInter and Summer Vegetables….Oh My!

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
14 replies
  1. Marguerite
    Marguerite says:

    Noelle, I absolutely could not agree more. Reading books, taking classes are all wonderful tools but there's nothing like getting your hands dirty and trying to grow something for yourself. Especially when gardening is so tied to your particular conditions such as soil, weather, and temperature.

  2. rohrerbot
    rohrerbot says:

    That's good to know….I haven't tried the tomato stuff yet….I'll be ready for that in a couple years, but I still think it's worth the try….some stuff just works well for different people….like for me Algerian Ivy WILL NOT grow! I put it everywhere…North South East West….and water, some water, little water….and it dies. Yet people have A LOT of healthy vines on their properties!!! I think I gave up:)

  3. Jan
    Jan says:

    I love garden experiments…best way to learn. But one year will also not be the same as the next!

    I was able to save my tomato plants from our cold temps by covering with big plastic bags and 2 green flood lights. It was my mini greenhouse and I have had 3 yummy tomatoes with more ready to pick any day!

    I am glad I experimented!

  4. Carol
    Carol says:

    Noelle, I so agree with you that we should experiment in the garden . . . and life in general. It seems you did very well . . . I see a good amount of tomatoes. You would not have had them if you had followed guidelines. ;>)

  5. Liza
    Liza says:

    I wonder if you'd planted them in a container that you could move into the garage during freezing temps? How often does it freeze in Phoenix, anyway? Once every few years?

  6. says:

    Thank you so much for your comments….I love reading them!

    Hello Liza,
    Phoenix gets an average of 5 days below freezing a year. The outlying areas, including where I live, get more then that. So far, I have had 8 nights where the temps have dipped below 32.

  7. One
    One says:

    I like your fenced up veggie bed. My dogs tramples all over my veggie. Looks like you still have some tomatoes in Winter. Not bad. The results of my experiments tell me to grow more during rainy season and do less experiments during the dry season. 🙂

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I plant mine in containers so I can bring them in need be. But this winter, just getting them over the week long dip in the 40s was easy and the warm weather that has followed has lead to many good tomatoes. Can't control the weather, so it is worth a try always.

Comments are closed.