Perfect for Small Spaces
This year I grew ‘House’ tomato for the first time. I came home with a couple of plants after Dad and I saw tomato expert Linda Crago from Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm at a gardening event. Linda’s table was covered with ‘House’ tomato plants, which she told me are super compact.
They start flowering earlier than many varieties. And once the plant get one to two feet tall, it doesn’t get any taller. (But it keeps producing lots of small, loonie-size bright red tomatoes.)
Because the plant is so compact, this tomato variety is great for containers and small gardens. Even though it’s short, the plant can be a bit floppy sometimes. I didn’t tie up my plants, and they flopped over the side of the pot they were growing in—which looked nice! If you’d rather an upright plant though, a short stake or stick will do.
I love this variety because there is no pruning needed to keep it small. It is small and bushy on its own—no need to pinch off suckers (side shoots.)
In the Kitchen
Linda told me that this variety got its name because it’s so compact that some people bring it into the house for the winter. She has heard of a gardener who has kept the same plant for 10 years. Bringing in the plants before the first fall frost means that the green tomatoes on the plant have a chance to keep ripening in the heat of the house.
So this is a tomato plant that you can actually have in the kitchen for the winter! Linda says don’t expect it to be an attractive plant. In the low-light conditions indoors, it might look a bit scraggly. But that’s OK, because you can keep picking tomatoes. Then, in the spring, you have a ready-to-go plant that is much bigger than a seedling. Just give it a little haircut, trimming back longer branches to promote new growth.
Grow Your Own
It can be hard to find ‘House’ tomato plants or seed for sale. If you want to start with a plant, visit Linda’s Tomato Days plant sale at Tree and Twig Heirloom vegetable farm in the Niagara Region of Ontario on the Victoria Day weekend. If you like starting your tomato plants from seed, check out Annapolis Seeds in Nova Scotia.
Emma Biggs is a gardener and garden communicator who has raised over 130 tomato varieties. Her Toronto garden is the source of many of her stories and the produce that she sells in her neighbourhood. She hosts kids gardening videos and her latest book, Gardening with Emma, helps kids and adults find the fun in growing.