Have you never grown tomatoes over winter? It is possible to enjoy tomato harvests from fall through spring many mild-winter California areas.
Start by choosing cold-tolerant and/or short-season tomato varieties. Most varieties need temperatures between about 55° to 93°F for pollination and to set fruit; however, cold-tolerant varieties such as Siberian, Siletz, and Stupice set fruit at colder temperatures. Siberian reportedly pollinates at temperatures as low as 38°F. Even the most cold-tolerant tomatoes may grow slowly and yield intermittently during cold weather.
Oregon Spring is a parthenocarpic variety that does not require pollination to set fruit, so is suited to growing during both hot summers and cool winters in California.
Be sure to plant winter tomatoes where they will receive ample sunlight during shorter days, or grow them in containers so plants can be moved from week to week to follow shifts in sunlight.
If winter temperatures drop below freezing in your area, monitor weather reports regularly. When cold or freezing temperatures are forecast, water tomatoes thoroughly and protect plants with fabric, cardboard, paper, or plastic sheets; or bring container plants indoors during periods of overnight frost. Gardeners in areas where temperatues may occasionally drop below 25°F or even 20°F may still succeed with winter tomatoes by using cold frames or passively heated mini-greenhouses.
Winter tomato gardening may be a chance to enhance your reputation as both a skilled gardener and a dependably unusual person by offering a friend or family member a bag of garden-fresh tomatoes in December or January!