7th January 2015 at 11:11 am #29628
Last year I had great success with tomatoes sown in the first week of February – starting the harvest of Maskotka in early June.
This year I thought I’d try a few Red Alert plants in January, just to see if you can stretch the harvest date forward into May or not. Not looking for huge yields, just 4 plants in 15cm pots yielding 1 – 2lb each. That was possible with a late May sowing last year for harvest in mid September….so I thought I’d try the other extreme in 2015.
Has anyone ever tried it without using artificial lamps?12th January 2015 at 10:31 pm #29698
I grow chillis and have usually started them early, and similarly with tomatoes but not so early. The problem is that days are short, light is low, and plants have to be kept indoors for a long time. They become leggy and windowsills fill up with plants. Chilli growers often use grow lamps. Maybe the solution is to one or two very early ones sown early, with the rest sown later. The. Best way to get very early chillis is to overwinter plants, not sure if that works with tomatoes. Of course a grow lamp is not cheap but it is not hard to make a grow box to hold lamps, I imagine MDF offcuts would work.13th January 2015 at 7:08 am #29699
i’m only sowing one strain early and then using my usual timetable of a few in early February, several in early March and a few in early April.
Not looking to maximise yield with a January sowing – trying to bring the first harvest date forward. However, if you don’t get a harvest or it tastes rubbish, it’s not worth it, is it?!17th January 2015 at 5:42 pm #29749
12/12 seeds germinated vigorously within 5 days – will transplant to 8cm pots tomorrow.7th February 2015 at 8:22 pm #29948
I have sown in January and the plants were fine but really a bit pot bound by the time it was safe to get in the ground. Then they have to recover – I don’t think you really gain much if anything…. a plant sown later but transplanted at the perfect time will overtake.
Red Alert are good early croppers but only ever had one or two in May….Good luck!8th February 2015 at 10:13 am #29951
I’m not ever going to put them in the ground – they will remain in 10/15cm pots through their life cycle – I’ve been doing this a few years and they simply end up outside in April/May depending on the warmth of the spring.
Absolutely: if you are looking to plant in the ground, sowing before early March is pretty pointless unless you have a large polytunnel/greenhouse.8th February 2015 at 10:46 am #29954
10/15cm pots seem rather small to me. How long are you planning to leave them in those?
Don8th February 2015 at 11:28 am #29956
The aim is to generate early crops in four 15cm pots, which would be the equivalent of one 30cm pots. My main batch of plants always end up in 30cm pots for the summer, but I successfully harvested around 150 Red Alert tomatoes from four 15cm pots last September, when I did this approach for very late season fruit. 15cm pots can live indoors on windowsills easily, whereas 30cm pots start invading living room space to a challenging degree!
I’ve just sown my early February seeds, which I hope will start harvesting from early to late June, depending on the sort of summer we get here.8th February 2015 at 7:59 pm #29959
I tried Pots, then Growbags and then Growbags with Ring culture Pots.
I now exclusively use Potato/Tomato Planter Bags and I find that the plants are bigger, stronger and yield exceptionally well outdoors here in Ireland.
Because I am constricted by the last frost date here (circa mid May) I don’t plant outside until late May but I get harvests from August through to end October.
If Ihad a Pollytunnel I’d love to experiment as you are.
Don.9th February 2015 at 8:38 am #29960
I am not expert but I think from what I have read that an early crop is also down to the variety? I have one from Real seeds that Latah, which is bred to crop in a very short season, in this case I believe it is 12 weeks. Obviously you will need to be able to provide warmth and good light levels to achieve this.
Im hoping that they will be fine from a Late Feb sowing and still produce an early crop as my sowing plans for this year are changing by the day.
Bluebell9th February 2015 at 11:19 am #29962
Varieties do have different speeds.
But also growing bush varieties like Red Alert and Maskotka means they can be fleeced for early protection 🙂4th March 2018 at 11:55 am #45284
This year & last two have experimented with round-the-year cropping with great success. As others suggest, can propagate (indoors) in Dec/Jan. Use small pots to force pot-bound roots prior to planting in your normal pot size around end-March in greenhouse. Second planting around July/August, either greenhouse or outdoors for cropping ~October. Start new plants outdoors outdoors around last week Sept/Oct and bring pots indoors around Dec. all timings depending on weather/sun, of course. This year, 2018, indoor plants produced samll second crop for Christmas & New Year – and still going through the frost and snow, just beginning to produce normal sized fruits due to better light towards the equinox. Now cloning side shoots from these plants into tiny pots for Spring.
Have seen Red Alert listed as F1, but there was a lot of discussion some years back about this. Seems that the saved seeds come true every time, so not sure whether there has been some rogue pollination, reversion or whether some seed companies were just trying it on?! Other discussion about this variety is whether its a bush or standard – of course, can grow as either, but I tend to stake to prevent weight of fruit bending stems, but this one doesn’t seem to mind bent branches and carries on regardless.
Great flavour, reliable crop, fairly resistant, just that the skins might be a little tough, albeit thin.4th March 2018 at 12:12 pm #45285
I have been sowing Red Alerts early for four years now and the outdoor harvest date really depends not so much on really early sowing date but warmth or not in April and May. A warm late spring brings early fruit, cool/damp ones and harvest may be late June to early July. Obviously also, the sooner you stop watering, the sooner they dry out and go into full ripening mode.
Clearly, you have to sow by mid to late February to get an early crop, but I have not seen a benefit of sowing in January vs February in terms of how early I have eaten fruit. Obviously, those with greenhouses or polytunnels may find different results if they get earlier warmth under protection….7th March 2018 at 8:55 pm #45405
Further to the several years of life of this thread, I wish to ask if any of you have thought to start indoors some seeds, allowing the resultant plants to luxuriate as house plants and then strike cuttings, which root readily in water, hence producing cropping plants which may already be well forward in flowering. Have you done this, did it work?
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