Some say annuals, some say perennials…but tomatoes are really perennials.
A local greenhouse owner caused quite a stir in our northern community when a Bonnie Best tomato sent roots out the bottom of its tiny pot and anchored itself into the gravel and earth floor of the year-round heated nursery. In the months to follow it grew like a magic beanstalk (or tomatostalk as it were) all the way up to the twenty foot ceiling. And then it kept on growing some more.
These crazy long vines produced tomatoes all summer long and then continued to put out blossoms and more fruit all through our long Zone 2b winter. In the spring it was still growing strong. The husband bravely climbed extension ladders year-round to harvest the prolific offerings. Everyone that came to greenhouse paid homage to the “miracle” tomato.
Of course, it wasn’t really a miracle at all. The tomato was simply being a tomato. Since most of us grow tomatoes in colder climates, we tend to think of them as annuals. An annual lives, produces and dies in a single season. But this is not the true lifespan of a tomato plant. Given a frost-free tropical climate a tomato would continue to produce fruit for several years. They would be cut down or severely pruned once a year to keep production flowing. In fact, the first year is usually a tomato plant’s poorest, production wise, compared to the years that follow.