Tomato Growing Structures

Tomatoes are a tropical plant and need two things to ripen fruit - warmth and light. There's no problem inland, heat and sun are generally abundant. Along the coast, even a light fog has satisfactory light for growing tomatoes, but because of the marine influence, warmth is sorely lacking. You'll have to use all the tips given in another page to help the fruit ripen. If those are not enough, it is time to consider a structure to enclose the plants.

Structure Design

Some years ago a fellow near Redcrest, a small town on the Avenue of the Giants, proudly showed me his tangerine trees. The fruit was quite tasty even though the trees were growing hundreds of miles north of its limit. How did he do it? He had an inflatable cover over his swimming pool, and the trees thrived inside, planted in large containers.

That's an extreme but excellent example of creating a microclimate to help a plant bear fruit. If you live in an area where the average temperature remains in the 60s or low 70s, you'll need to give the tomato plant as much help as possible. The night-time temperatures are extremely important to ripening because certain chemical processes occur then, and they affect the taste.

Choosing low heat tomato varieties will help, but if you can occasionally hear the foghorns or smell the ocean, good tasting tomatoes come only with the higher temperatures created within a growing structure. These can be homemade or can be elaborate structures, and that's covered on the next page.

NEXT: Tomato Growing Structures, continued