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You must have noticed that your vegetable garden declines its produce as the days go by and as temperature drops? Unfortunately, it is especially the case with your tomatoes!
The lifespan of your tomato plants is dependent on climate, pests, and how well you’re able to protect them from cold. Also, different varieties of tomatoes require different periods of time to produce.
Tomatoes are warm-weather plants and require a lot of sun, heat, and water to be productive. The best time to harvest your tomatoes is therefore in summer.
Keep reading our article to find out more about the tomato plant lifespan and how can it be increased.
What is the Lifespan of a Tomato Plant?
Tomato plants take 45 to 70 days to reach their maturity. The size of your ripe tomato is proportional to the number of days taken to harvest. Smaller tomatoes tend to take less time to grow as compared to the larger tomatoes.
Determinate tomato plants can only grow to a specific size. They will only produce a single harvest of tomatoes for you. They stop growing after their top bad has set fruit. Normally, they reach a maximum height of 4 feet.
The fruits may take 6 weeks to harvest time and they will be done by as early as midsummer. It all depends on when you will plant them. The fact that determinate tomatoes plants only produce a glut of tomatoes once makes it ideal for home use. You can use them to produce your sauces and other home-processed tomato products. Once you harvest the fruit, the tomato plant declines and dies.
Smaller varieties of indeterminate tomato plants have a longer harvest time. They can produce tomatoes by seven weeks after planting and go all the way into fall. Indeterminate tomato plants can grow to higher heights up to 12 feet.
After fruit sets, these plants continue producing until the first frost. Indeterminate tomato plants produce larger and more tomatoes as compared to determinate varieties. The fruit production is spread out over a two to three months period.
The most natural habitat for a tomato plant is the tropical climate. In this kind of climate, the tomato plant can live for many years. When the tomato plant is grown in cooler climates, it’s life span is reduced to one growing season. This is mainly due to a lack of sunlight and the freezing temperatures.
In their native habitat in the tropical regions within the South of America, indeterminate tomato plants grow indefinitely similar to a sprawling vine. Unlike other plants with this potential, they do not form a small bush that has a definite ultimate size. Instead, they are said to have the potential to keep growing over a period of several years.
A tomato seed germinates when it is introduced to moist soil and the temperatures are between 70 and 80 Fahrenheit. After taking in enough water, it activates the digestive enzymes and the resulting embryonic plant uses the already broken down nutrients in the seed for its proper growth.
For most tomato plants, growth continually occurs beyond the flowering stage. Fertilization occurs when mature flowers develop on the tomato plant. The pollen then travels down the pollen tube into the ovary of the flower. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to flower and develop fruits throughout the growing season. This continues until the plant is killed by the first frost.
To keep them from freezing and dying, tomato plants can be grown indoors during the winter months. However, achieving this requires a delicate balance of water, light, and nutrition to flourish.
How can you Increase the Lifespan of a Tomato Plant?
Tomato plants in the garden experience a lack of steam. This is especially the case as fall approaches. You could get some of your tomatoes inside during the winter. You could also choose to preserve your supply by planting your tomatoes in a greenhouse before they are affected by frost.
Different varieties exist for indoor growing or for greenhouses. You need to make sure you get the right variety for your choice. In the greenhouse, you need to ensure you provide your tomato plants with enough water and fertilizer for proper growth. You also need to help your plants distribute the pollens to the set fruits since there’s no wind or animals to pollinate.
To safeguard your tomato plants, you need to watch out for the factors that hamper the tomatoes’ lifespan in the greenhouse. Lower outdoor temperatures and a reduction in the levels of light concentration affect the growth of a tomato plant. Growth is inhibited even when the plant is protected from the killer frosts in a greenhouse environment.
If you want to keep your tomato plants all year round, you need to use supernatural light and heat. You must keep the greenhouse temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the garden, you should consider starting with the tomatoes from the seed in the greenhouse. Alternatively, you could purchase tomato plants. You can then transplant them into the garden in spring securing them from the last frost.
When it is cold, you must cover your plants to protect the leaves from frost. Unfortunately, extreme temperatures damage the roots permanently. It is the adverse effects that cause the tomato plants to die and not be productive in the spring.
The other effective alternative to increasing the lifespan of your tomato plants is to grow and keep your tomato plants indoors. You can carefully dig up your tomato plants from the garden. You will then need to plant your plants in pots.
Dedicate a sunny window to plant the successive tomato crops indoors. It s the surest way to ensure you get to keep your harvest in the coming year. You can grow dwarf plants in large containers then supplement the light using fluorescent bulbs on need-basis. You must maintain the temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees for the best results.
When the plants are young, leave the light on for 16 hours each day. As they grow, decrease the light time to 12 hours each day so as to trigger their flowering. Check the soil moisture on a daily basis and ensure you keep the soil moist but not too wet.
You need to turn the plants each day to maintain even growth. Naturally, the plants will turn towards the light. Adjust the position of the light bulbs as your plants grow. Maintain a 4 to 6 inches distance above the plant.
Your pots need to have a 12-inch or larger diameter. They also need good drainage. Ensure your tomato plants are compact and healthy. Their trunks should be strong and their roots well developed.
Small determinant varieties tend to yield great results for indoor growing. You must plant your tomato plants an inch deeper than their original position. You will then make the soil around them firm and water them sufficiently.
To lengthen the harvest period, tomato plants need to be protected from cold. Loamy and clayey soils are known to produce the best results for higher yields. On the other hand, light sandy soils heat and drain quickly, and this propagates rapid growth. The lighter soils yield their produce earlier on in the harvest.
For regions that fall under the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 10, they are said to be warm enough that the indeterminate varieties live longer. The tomato plants in these regions have the potential to live through the winter in pots if they are preserved indoors whenever frost is a threat.
How Old is the Oldest Tomato Plant?
After putting in all the effort, for how long will your tomato plant live? Well, there’s no absolute answer but if history is anything to go by, it could be a really long time.
Unfortunately, it is not exactly said how old was the oldest tomato plant. What we do know is that it grew in the experimental greenhouses of the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena in Florida. It may also be the largest single tomato plant in the entire world.
The plant has yielded more than 32,000 tomatoes resulting in a total weight of 1,151lb. A one time harvest yielded several thousands of tomatoes from a single vine. The unique plant was discovered by Yong Huang, Epcot’s manager of Agricultural Science.
It was discovered in Beijing, China, and its seeds brought into specialized greenhouses for optimum growth. The sizes of tomatoes obtained from the plant were the size of a golf ball.
Another remarkable tomato plant yielded the heaviest tomato ever harvested. An unbelievable 7lb tomato! It was of the cultivar ‘Delicious’ and was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond Oklahoma back in 1986.
Nutriculture Ltd of Mawdesley, UK grew the largest tomato plant of the cultivar ‘Sungold’. It reached a remarkable height of 65ft.
Growing your tomato plants can do better than serve you a one-time off supply. It just needs you to put in your best foot forward. Diligently take care of your plants and their products will do more than take care of you. It will feed you.
Your greatest enemy in dealing with protecting, preserving, and extending the lifespan of your tomato plants is cold. Keep away the frost from your plants. Take up the best quality seeds or plants, provide them with the best care and your tomato supply will not run out.