What Tomato varieties do you grow? Here in Wasilla, Alaska our season can be short so early season varieties do best and cold tolerant varieties are preferred. I started growing the local popular varieties: Early Girl, Early Tanana, and Stupice in my Alaska Grow Buckets, but quickly learned that standard tomatoes can outgrow my greenhouse and needed to be pruned when they grew up to the roof!
I decided to switch to Bush or Dwarf varieties. I was very happy with a compact sturdy variety called Extreme Bush from Victory Seed company. They were very prolific, cold tolerant, and full of 3-4 oz fruit. About golf ball to baseball in size. Extreme Bush are an open pollinated heirloom variety and great for seed-saving.
Extreme Bush tomatoes are prone to cracking when ripe, but since I make tomato sauce it really didn't matter. They also seemed so suffer from early blight or fungal disease and would turn yellow and then brown with disease at the end of our summer growing season. Pinching off the lower branches and spraying regularly with a fungicide helped and I recommend starting early and spraying every week with Green Cure brand Fungicide that is labeled as safe for organic growers. You can get it here on my Amazon Affiliate Store.
Last year I tried Bush Early Girl tomato variety from Tomato Growers Supply and was very pleased with the results. I have grown standard Early Girl tomatoes before, but as a standard tomato plant they would grow too tall inside my greenhouse. Bush Early Girl is a hybrid that is a more compact and sturdy bush type tomato and also listed as VFFNT disease resistant. Which stands for: V = Verticillium wilt FF = Fusarium, races 1 & 2 N = Nematodes T = Tobacco mosaic virus-resistant. The plants held up very well just as indicated. They also produced larger fruit about 6-8 oz a little larger than baseball size and big enough for slicing on a burger. Also cracking was not a problem with this variety.
|Bush Early Girl|
Bush Early Girl may have less fruit than Extreme Bush, but the larger size made for a similar harvest. They did ripen a few weeks later than Extreme Bush, but that may have been due to our weather. I had plenty and they made excellent tomato sauce. This photo was taken in mid September and I had to add a small space heater to my greenhouse for the chilly nighttime temperatures.
So when do you start your seeds and when to you plant them out in your unheated greenhouse? I am lucky to have a home weather station that tracks the overnight temperature and lets me judge when it is safe to move my plants or if I need to add a space heater.
An electric oil filled space heater seems to keep my 8x16 ft. greenhouse about 10 degrees above the outside temperature. I try to keep the overnight low temperature above 40 degrees whenever possible.