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Long Keeper Tomatoes: Seed Now for a Winter Treat

April 12, 2010

Want to grow storage tomatoes that keep fresh in the pantry well into winter? Try our tips!

(original post from 4/12/2010)

In just a few, I’m heading out into the greenhouse to seed some more tomatoes. Today, I’ll seed the first round of Long Keepers. You may recall from earlier posts, that I grew this tomato in 2009 in hopes of having tomatoes ripening in the cellar well into winter. And, truly, I did. This year, I want more.

Late December Long Keeper Tomatoes

Late December Long Keeper Tomatoes

In 2009, I seeded my first round of Long Keeper Tomatoes from Irish Eyes on May 29th and was harvesting them, only slightly blushed with any color (if at all) by mid-October. So, rather than the expected 80-some days to harvest-from-planting, my results turned out to be more like 140 days. In our short Seattle growing season — even with my handy greenhouse — this was cutting it a bit close. So, for 2010, I’m starting a month earlier with my first seeding, and I plan to seed this tomato in a couple of successions. Hopefully, this way, I’ll have more fruit earlier, and more of it will have stronger first-blush going before harvest. Ideally, I’ll be packing these juicy treats away from mid-September thru mid-October this year.

Why do I want more of these tomatoes? Well, here’s the deal: about 75% of the Long Keepers that I stored in the cellar actually ripened enough for us to enjoy them over the winter.

Cellared Long Keepers in October After Harvest

Cellared Long Keepers in October After Harvest

The other 25% failed/rotted in storage <- that’s why they were packed individually as a precaution! Since some weren’t very blushed at late harvest, I didn’t expect those to make it. But most did.

And guess what? We enjoyed the last one on February 17, 2010. No, it wasn’t summer-tomato-licious. Yes, it was less-red & more-orange-pink in color. It was firm, not mushy.  But, best of all – it tasted like a tomato.  And that’s after something like 100 days in storage – not bad for a homegrown tomato cellared for many months. For pennies on the dollar and no big fuel-shipping winter tomato surcharges, I think we’ll take some more this year, thank you very much.

So, I’m off. Into the greenhouse where my sterile seed pots await the deposit of tiny seeds, which will become the fresh-sliced tomato I rave about here next January (I hope).


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  2. Sandi says:

    I planted Red October, also a long storage tomato last year. Great results. I am planting Long keeper today 4/13/11 in addition to Red October. Suggestions. Research the color red for tomatoes. It increases yields. I start in a red pot, transplant into larger red pots (empty Folgers coffee are red and they are great. Then they go in large red plastic pail or pots (5 gallons) with handles. I move them to avoid frost..in and out of an unheated green house or the cellar! The rest go in the ground after Memorial Day with Red Mulch. I do the same with all varieties and the red color makes a huge difference in yield. The stalks are also sturdy….some look like tree trunks. I freeze, can, and store all we need. I bought no winter tomatoes. The storage tomatoes are fantastic on pizza and in a salad much better than anything I could purchase in a store.

  3. […] I harvested the full crop so I could prep our precious food growing space for a late season crop of Long Keeper tomatoes. If you’re counting the months, you’ve just realized broccoli takes a long time to […]

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