My neighbor and I have a friendly competition to see who’s the first (and last) to harvest tomatoes each season.
He’s usually the first, showing off ripe fruit in late April, and I’m usually the last, still harvesting almost up to Christmas.
This year, however, I decided to make a real effort to be first so back in early December I sowed four different tomato varieties in the sunniest spot in my greenhouse.
Of the dozen plants that sprouted, all but one died before getting their third set of leaves. The one survivor, a Tigerella, continued to grow despite repeated freezes (I run a cold greenhouse), lots of leaf burn and a soil infestation of ants.
Toward the end of January the sun was finally high enough again that the greenhouse was getting light for around 10 hours a day, and the scraggly tomato started to really take off. Last week it flowered and I saw the first couple of baby tomatoes poking out from the plant.
If I’m lucky, the weather will hold for a few more weeks and I’ll be harvesting my first tomatoes on the first day of spring.
Hopefully my neighbor didn’t get the same head start.