If you love the idea of picking sweet, ripe, cherry tomatoes, and are not sure how to start, then you have landed on the right page.
Cherry tomatoes are great and the easiest plants to start with.
Growing them is rewarding not only for experienced gardeners but beginners as well, as they are very much productive and easy to grow.
Moreover, a single plant produces a reliable crop of bite-sized fruit from early summer until fall.
It is important to note that these hearty and vigorous plants grow in large clusters in a number of colors like chocolate, mahogany, orange, red, and yellow.
As the fruit is of small size, it is usually, 1 to 2 inches and a high-yielding plant. It often bears fruit in 55 to 65 days, while some are ready to harvest in as little time as 45 days.
However, there are some plants, that can take up to 80 days to mature.
Surprisingly, they also perform well in containers, so you can grow them anywhere, even on small balconies or decks.
Keep on reading to learn more about them.
Types of Cherry Tomatoes
There are a number of cherries tomatoes cultivars and they come in different shapes and colors including red, yellow, and orange
The following are a few popular types:
Golden Sweet: This one is a yellow variety that is resistant to fusarium wilt and leaf mold.
Sun Gold: These are orange cherry tomatoes resistant to fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus.
Isis Candy: This is an heirloom variety that has bicolored pale red with gold streaks.
Fantastico: These types are crack resistant and can tolerate late blight.
Black Cherry: Black cheery or purple-black heirloom variety.
Planting Cherry Tomatoes
While planting cherry tomatoes, you need to consider the following factors:
When to Plant
It is important to plant your cherry tomatoes after the frost season passes away.
You will need to start the seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the projected date of frost in your region.
Then plant them outside when seedlings are at least 6 inches tall.
Selecting a Planting Site
For your tomatoes, you need to choose a sunny spot with good soil drainage. Make sure that there are no nearby
Moreover, make sure that there are no nearby plants to shade your tomatoes too much once they grow and leaf out in the spring.
On the other hand, you can also grow them on your container farm.
It is important to practice crop rotations as well as it helps to prevent the disease from spreading and avoid excess nutrient depletion of the soil.
Do not plant your tomatoes in the same location where other members of the nightshade family, were grown a year before.
These plants include potatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
Spacing, Depth, and Support
While gardening cherry tomatoes, space them at least a few feet apart to allow for their spreading habitat and make sure there is good air circulation.
Cover the seeds with about 1/ inch of the soil and situate nursery plants at the same depth they were growing in the previous container.
It is important to note that most varieties of cherry tomatoes are indeterminate.
This means that they continue to grow their vines and produce fruit throughout the season.
To control this condition, you need to provide a support structure for their vines, like a tomato cage.
Cherry tomatoes are robust and easy to cultivate, however, there are a few things you can do to assist a yielding harvest.
These plants tend to thrive in soil that is well-draining with a pH level of 6.2 to 6.5.
They need a full sunlight location, with a minimum of 6 hours of light per day.
It is important to note that you should refrain from planting it during the frost season.
However, you can use a cloche or plant cover to protect new seedlings if there is adverse weather in your region.
Make sure to leave ample space between your plants as they tend to grow big and bushy.
Moreover, set your cages or stakes in place when planting to avoid disturbing the roots later in the season.
However, if you are growing the plants in a container on your balcony, tie the stems to the railing to eliminate the need for cages.
When plucking the plant, start from the lowest stems and shoots from the main stalk, then bury the plant close to the remaining set of leaves.
This is because stripped stalk will produce more roots for stronger growth.
In order to prevent future problems like blossom end rot, mix a hand full of lime or Epsom salts into the hole.
Increase magnesium levels in the soil, as high concentrations of calcium and potassium, can block its availability.
After the appearance of flowers, feed the plants with a balanced fertilizer or a tomato formula of 19-18-21.
However, container plants will need more frequent fertilizing and weekly feeding.
For this, dilute half-strength formula to compensate for the increase in the frequency of application.
Water them weekly rather than frequent light watering.
On the other hand, if you have limited space, like for varieties like dwarf or patio go for compact growth varieties.
Harvesting Cherry Tomatoes
You can harvest cherry tomatoes within 50 to 65 days after planting them.
Moreover, you will know that your plant is ready to harvest when it changes its color from green to red, orange, purple, or yellow.
You can easily detach them from the stem once they change color.
Once some of the varieties start to ripe, continue to check your plant at least every day for harvestable tomatoes.
However, if you leave them for too long, they will crack and drop off the stem.
It is important to note that heavy rain can promote cracking in cheery tomatoes on the vine, therefore, pick any ripe tomatoes before rainfall.
If it is not possible, pick them right after rainfall as cracked ones will rot quickly.
You can eat them fresh or cook them.
However, in order to store them, make sure they are at room temperature and consumed within a few days.
They can also be canned, oven-friend, or frozen in different forms like a paste or sauce.
Not all gardeners prune their tomatoes and it is not an essential part of their growth.
However, it can help your plants to produce more fruit rather than foliage.
Pruning cherry tomatoes simply involves taking off the suckers or small stems growing from the main stem.
These stickers tend to produce foliage, however,r not a lot of fruit, so without them, your plant will focus its growing energy on the fruit-bearing stems.
Moreover, you can prune off any stems that drag on the ground as they are more prone to disease and pests.
Learn more about Pest Management in Agriculture here.
Propagating Cherry Tomatoes
Like most gardeners you can grow tomatoes from seed or nursery plants, however, it is also possible to propagate them from cuttings.
This is a great way to clone a tomato plant for its vigorous production or taste.
The ideal time to carry out this process is to start in late spring where the parent plant is actively growing.
Follow the steps:
- Find a sucker coming off the main stem with no buds or flowers, and cut off a 6 to 8-inch portion
- Remove the leaves on the lower half of the cutting.
- Plant the cutting in a small pot or container with moist soilless potting mix and place it in bright, indirect sunlight.
- Make sure to keep the growing medium moist but too soggy.
- Roots will develop in a week or two.
- If you feel resistance when gently pulling out the cutting, you will know that it has root, and then you can transplant it into the garden.
Growing From Seeds
It is easy to grow cherry tomatoes from seeds.
However, unless you want to grow a lot of cherry tomatoes of the same variety or grow unusual varieties that are available from seed companies.
You can buy the seedlings from your local garden center, which is a convenient way to get them.
Plant the seeds about 1/4 deep in the container that contains a seed-starting mix.
Place this container in a warm spot with bright, indirect sunlight.
Keep the growing medium constant moist but not too wet. Germination takes place in 5 to 10 days and the seedlings can harden and you can transplant them during nighttime.
However, it is important to note that while transplanting, the temperatures should be constantly about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cherry tomatoes or Solanum Lycopersicum var. cerasiforme are easy to grow and quick even if you are new to gardening.
They need a few days to mature than regular tomatoes and this is a big advantage if you live in old climates where the growing season is short, however, if you have a zone that heats up too fast, your fruit will grow during the summers.
However, it is important to note that they are susceptible to several diseases and pests like blight, leaf spots, mosaic viruses, and tomato hornworms.
You can prevent them with good garden practices by making sure there is enough growing space, support structures, and not overwatering them.