In 2001, I tried something new. I did not get my tomatoes and peppers into the vegetable garden in May or June. So there I was, in July, with 12 tomato plants and 8 pepper plants that I had started from seed in April. I planted some in the garden and experimented with the others.
I planted 4 tomatoes and 4 peppers in 8 inch or greater pots. I used both purchased potting soil in some and compost in others. Some plants were put in clay pots and some in plastic pots. The plants seemed to grow much the same no matter which dirt or pot was used. I put pretty rocks on the top surface of the dirt to act like mulch (and because I thought the rocks looked nice...).
I used a watering technique that I have used on my indoor plants for years, as shown in this cutout picture to the left. I placed one or two wicks in the bottom holes of the each pot (the green strip in the picture). I made sure the wick was in good contact with the soil and was long enough to reach to the bottom of the water container.
I placed the potted plant on another pot turned upside down in a large container that became a water reservoir. The inverted pot held the potted plant above the water line so the plant's roots did not become water logged and allowed me to put more water into the large container as the container volume was not filled with the plant's pot.
During July and August, I grew these plants on our south facing deck. Due to the large water capacity of the outer containers, I did not need to water the plants every day. Jack and I went on a a four week trip in June. I left the plants on the deck and filled the water reservoirs; all the plants trived.
In late August as the temperature began falling below freezing, I would move the plants indoors in the early evening and then back out into the sun in the morning. Jack and I went for a three week trip during September. Before leaving, I put all the plants in a sunny room and filled the water reservoirs. When we returned, all the plants were healthy and some still had water left. The wicking system really works.
I grew the plants in a sunny window during the rest of the autumn. Here is a photograph of the tomatoes taken during the Christmas holidays. While the plants were indoors, I used a small paint brush to pollinate the blossoms; I felt I was really living up to my web user name - Tiller Bee. Jack and I ate many tomatoes from these plants. We even picked a few peppers, something I have not been able to accomplish in the outdoor gardens very often.
The plants eventually died during our cold, dark January. They were attacked by aphids, lots of aphids. I also think the temperature next to the window may have dropped below freezing. Having tomatoes through the fall and part of winter was a real treat for us and I will do this again next year.
This spring, I plan to start lettuce and grow it in one of our south facing double windows. I also plan to start a few tomato plants. Maybe by June, I will have some ripe ones. I'll continue this page next year with my new experiments.