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I accidentally grew tomatoes!!

I'll be honest I'm not much of a gardener. A few low maintenance shrubs, a few flowers in some tubs, that's about it. I do compost all my peelings and vegetable leftovers from the kitchen and somehow I seem to have grown quite a nice tomato vine this year, probably because I rinsed out the compost bin and tipped it on the flower bed. It grew to five or six feet and it was pretty untidy but we got some good fruit from it. I have read some tips online about how to train it into a single stem plant next year. But now that we have reached the end of this year's growing season what do I do with it now? It's sort of hanging on the ground with some blackened leaves and some fruit that never ripened. Should I hack it all down, or dig it up or what? Will it grow back from the same root again or should I bury some of the fruit to provide a new starting point? Grateful for any advice to a complete newbie!!


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,759

    Thats why I wont put anything to do with tomatoes or potatoes in my comost bins. They spring up all over the place, dig it out and chuck it.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Bigpat...........won't do anything now so chuck it on your compost heap.  Self seeders like yours quite often provide good flavoured fruit and it can be to your advantage if you don't want to go to the trouble of actually sowing bought seed.  Alternatively, any unwanted seedlings that appear can easily be identified and whipped out before they take overimage

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 15,097

    Dig it up, it won't survive the winter. Start again in the spring, if you want to grow them, with fresh seed or little bought plants. If it was an F1 hybrid originally it won't come true from seed anyway. Tomato seeds need warmth to germinate so seeds left outside will germinate too late to get the best crop off them. 

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • BusyLizzie.......I agree but as I understood it, the OP grew a good Tom plant from the leftovers placed in a compost bin.  It was a bonus and the fruit obviously tasted good.   The seeds will survive in the compost over winter and it can just be a good way of getting a few toms if you aren't particularly into buying seeds and rearing them yourself.  image

  • Thanks everyone. Yes the plant was certainly a welcome surprise this year and I was wondering how to get it to do the same again next year, (just maybe a little tidier).

    I realise I may not have explained properly when I said I rinsed out the compost bin. I meant the caddy in the kitchen where fresh peelings and so forth goes. Not my big outdoor compost bin. There must have been some shop bought tomatoes in there that had been chucked when past their best. This plant did not appear from compost that I spread.

    OK so the consensus seems to be to rip it out and chuck it in the compost. Fair enough. I will certainly do that. But to get the same thing to happen next year, should I save some seeds out of another tomato, or plant half a tomato maybe? Around March maybe? This is a flower border quite near the house, well sheltered by another wall, but doesn't get much sun. That's why it was such a surprise to get nice healthy tomatoes. Out of the blue as far as I could see!!
  • Ah, that is slightly different thenimage  Seriously, if you don't want to buy Tom seeds, you could just work off the same basis but be a little more specific.  You could save seeds from a tomato now , dry off and store cool until  sowing early next year ( gentle heat needed ) but that is really not much different from choosing a variety and buying the seed.  If you prefer to do the "surprise" method, buy a tomato now, break it up and pop it in your kitchen waste.  Once the waste is "on it's way" so to speak, hoof your Tom into a small pot with some waste and a bit of soil and then place the pot in your outdoor compost bin.  It won't particularly matter if you cover it with other waste so long as you can retrieve it easily come the Spring ( a bit of string or similar ? ).  That way, you should then be able to choose the strongest seedlings and transfer to your chosen site.

    Having written all that, for a couple of quid or so, you could buy seed and do it the conventional wayimage

  • Good subject.

    This year like many others before, I have bought seed, germinated it carefully used a heater in the greenhousde, fertilised , watered and spent perhaps overall hours and hours .Taking off side shoots etc cutting off leaves .

    This year much the same happened to me as to others who have found self seeders.

    I had one plant, and because it was not in the way let it get on.with its purpose in life to fruit.

    No watering , no feeding and the end result was loads of lovely toms all ripened but they were after the greenhouse ones and worth more to me.

    I will do the same next year by scattering some of the saved seed onto a raised bed.

    I know "blight " can be a problem but if you have a spare foot or so give it a try.

    Time spent looking after( plant  5 minutes ) when I stopped all the tips as fruit began to ripen .And time spent picking pounds and pounds of ripe toms .

    I will still grow some in the greenhouse as a belt and braces approach ,

  • Thanks so much for those replies.  Philippa that's exactly the kind of step-by-step I needed.  I sort of guessed I could do something along those lines but it's great to have it confirmed.  If I don't want to bury it in the outside compost, will it go OK in a small pot on an indoor window-sill or something like that?

    And you're right, I could go the conventional route but this has so eye-opening to me (as basically a non-gardener!) that it's got me intrigued.



  • Bigpat........the only problem I can see if you put the waste toms in a pot indoors now, they will probably germinate which would be far too early.  If potted up with some of the kitchen waste, you may also find that any insects or fruit flies will be a bit of a nuisance.  The idea of sticking it in your outside compost is that the seeds will be protected from the cold winter but will, with the warmer Spring temps., germinate naturally and then you can plant out.  If you can't put in the outside compost, you could do exactly what you suggest but not until say March next year ( depends on where you are and what temps you have ).  Some people sow their tomato seeds in Jan/Feb in a propagator but then you have the problem of light levels.  Sown too early, you can risk very leggy plants with the 1st truss not appearing until way up the stem.  Those sown later ....say April or even May....will more often than not easily catch up with the earlier ones and be sturdier plants with the 1st truss forming lower down the stem.....ideal because then you can aim for 6 trusses per a manageable height plant outdoors in a good summer.  That is often why self seeders make good plants as they have germinated and grown at their "natural" rate.

    It's also worth of note that those seeds passed thru animal ( or even human !  ) guts seem to germinate more readily image

    Hope this helpsimage

  • Yikes! I might draw the line at rummaging through the toilet bowl before I flush it image

    Great advice overall though. I gather timing is everything and I'm more than happy to wait until the spring.  I might even try some a few weeks apart in Feb/March/April and see what results I get.

    The great thing about this is that it's so cheap to experiment. Sod paying a fortune for shrubs at fancy garden centres only to have them die on me within six months (well it happened once!)

    I may just become a tomato gardener!   Thanks image

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