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As I write this, it is raining outside.  I love the rain.  I always have, even as a young girl growing up in Southern California.  

I especially like the thought of all the rain falling on my vegetable garden.

If you look closely, you might notice something growing that usually doesn’t belong in a winter vegetable garden (in zone 9a and cooler areas)….

Can you see what I have growing in the photo above that normally belongs in a spring / summer vegetable garden?
Well, if you said tomato plants, you would be correct.
Now before you scold me for planting tomatoes in a garden that sees frost every winter – I assure you that I did NOT plant any of these tomatoes.
No one else did either….
So, how did I end up with tomatoes growing in my garden this time of year?  
Well, they came up from seeds from fallen tomatoes from last summer’s vegetable garden.
I have actually had to pull up small tomato seedlings, but I decided to let 5 stay.  You may be asking, why am I letting them grow if they will be killed by frost?

I am hoping that this winter may be mild enough that they will survive if I protect them from frost.
Last week, we had several days in the low 30’s / upper 20’s.  I covered my tomatoes with old sheets and towels.  Additionally, I also put out two desk lights underneath the coverings (not letting the bulbs touch the sheets), which provides additional warmth.
The result?
Overall, the tomatoes did well.  Some of their upper leaves did receive frost damage, but the lower 3/4’s the plants did very well.
I am hoping that my experiment continues to do well.  Why?  Because I will have a huge headstart on growing lots of tomatoes.
I will continue to let you know how they do this winter. 
**In frost-free gardens, you can grow tomatoes during winter.  But, my zone 9a garden sees temperatures dip into the upper 20’s, so without protection, tomatoes won’t survive the winter.