Fall Garden Tomatoes

Question: Can I grow tomatoes in my fall vegetable garden?

Answer: Fall vegetable gardens typically feature cool-season crops such as kale, lettuce, brussels sprouts and broccoli. But if you live in the warm Southeast or Southwest, you may be able to include tomatoes in your fall vegetable garden and expect a harvest.

Whereas you might start fall crops like kale and lettuce from seed, you’ll need to start with tomato transplants, and it’s hard to find such for sale in mid- or late summer. You’ll need to root a cutting from a healthy, mature tomato plant already in your or a neighbor’s garden. You need to allow a sucker (a new stem that occurs between the plant’s main stem and a lateral branch) to grow 5 or 6 inches tall. Then cut off the sucker and remove its lowest set of leaves. Insert the bottom of its stem in a jar of water or a pot of damp potting mix, making sure the nodes where the leaves were formerly attached are under the surface of the water or soil. Roots will grow from those nodes. Once roots begin to form, transplant the cutting into the garden and treat it as you would any young tomato plant.

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9 thoughts on “Fall Garden Tomatoes

  1. My fall-only crop is turnips, planted right about now. In my northern garden most of the summer crops last till first frost here, especially tomatoes, but I try to find a little time to replant some lettuce and radishes for fall. Turnips I never plant till it’s close to fall, and it is fun to actually harvest them when there may even be snow on the ground. That’s when they taste absolutely sweet too.

  2. I help run a food pantry garden and we plant our tomato plants in succession just as one would other plants to lengthen the harvest time. We are in SW Missouri, zone 6, and have tomatoes until first frost. A few days before the fall frost, we pick lots of green tomatoes that can be allowed to ripen for a late garden treat.

    • Thanks, Debbie. That is fabulous that you garden for a food pantry. I’m sure the clients love having fresh produce. I’ve heard that putting tomatoes in a brown bag will help them ripen off the vine, though I haven’t tried it. Have you? I know it works on peaches.

  3. For the fall garden… I have indeterminate tomatoes in raised beds, which I plan to carry through as long as possible by covering with a hoop cloth. However, tomatoes are hot weather plants, so the cool nights and days, and shorter days, may not let tomatoes set fruit, even if you get them to grow the further north you get. Swiss chard, especially Fordhook Giant, is a great nutritious plant where you get the most bang for your buck, and it tolerates cool weather. Also plant now some winter squash, if you have the room. Don’t you just love extending the season!

  4. as a seed sales rep, I’m finding lots of customers are growing from seed this year right through the summer–lots of succession planting. Normally, the months of July and August are pretty quiet. Could be the late cold spring we had, but I’m on line to post best ever sales (in 15 years) for both July and August. This is SO encouraging to me–it means people here in California may be finally getting the succession planting thing! Pull it out, Plant again! Saves so much $$ on groceries and NO reason not to here where we can grow year round. I’ve started from seed new tomatoes and herbs to go though fall, as well as romanesco broccoli and kale.

  5. Great idea! I started doing this a couple weeks ago. Instead of rooting the cutting in water, I put them directly in the garden keeping them well watered until rooted. I’m in Zone 7 in Maryland. Interested to see if these cuttings will produce more tomatoes this year.

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