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Cherry tomatoes became very popular in the last few years. They are cute, colorful, and easy to grow. They also bring color to any salad and are good for your health. Perfect to plant in a pot, urban small farm, or backyard garden. They are easy to grow, ideal for fresh eating, a perfect addition for any salads, and great for cooking.
There are lots of health benefits from eating cherry tomatoes. Summer-ripened tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a good source of vitamin K and potassium. The lycopene in the tomatoes is an anti-oxidant, but is only released when the tomatoes are cooked. They also contain compounds that block cancer-causing nitrosamines. Cherry tomatoes are also a perfect way to stay fit. One cup, which is around 10 tomatoes has only 30 calories.
Preparation for planting
The cherry tomato plant is very easy to grow and care for. That is why people who start growing their own vegetables and fruits (yes, tomato is a fruit) pick cherry tomatoes as one of their first plants.
Tomatoes in general love sunny areas.
Growing cherry tomato from seeds is obviously different than buying seedlings from your local nursery. In both cases, you will need a tomato cage or wooden sticks that will support the vines. You can buy ones from your local nursery or online as well as make your own. Make sure they are not plastic as they are toxic to the plants.
The idea behind the cages or wooden stakes is to have the vines off the ground. It will improve air circulation and keep vines supported throughout their growth. Cherry tomatoes grow fast so you need to make sure you get large enough structures where the plants will not outgrow them. You will keep adjusting the cage and loosely tie some of the vines for better support.
How to plant
You will find different people telling you different stories. For many years we always do the same and it works for us. In our Canadian climate we experimented and we found what works best here.
The best way of growing cherry tomatoes is to start them in small pots and later transfer them in larger ones or in your backyard. This way you give them a chance to grow in the spring, while the outside temperature is still low. Two months before the last frost will give them enough to become strong seedlings. Of course, this will still depend on the sunlight and temperature they are exposed to.
- Pick a small pot (0.5-1.0 L or 30-60 oz) add holes to the bottom if there are none so the soil is well-drained. Keep a saucer underneath to gather the excessive water. We usually use white plastic containers from yogurt (0.5-0.7 L). They keep the soil moist for longer and have enough space for the roots to grow.
- Fill the pot with a good organic mix. Do not compact it. Just shake it a few times to remove any large air pockets.
- Dig a small hole - 2-3 cm (1 inch) deep in the soil and add one seed in it. Cover the hole with soil. You can add 1-2 more holes with seeds in one pot but later it will be tricky to separate the roots. We add 3 seeds per container.
- Keep the pots in a warm, sunny place and make sure the soil is always moist to touch.
- In a few weeks you will see seedlings coming out. They are fragile so avoid touching them.
Once you have stable temperature, well-above freezing, and your seedlings are at least 20 cm long, you can plant the seedlings outside or in a larger pot.
Cherry tomatoes require a lot of sun. Pick a place that will provide at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. If you are planning to have the tomatoes in your back yard, dig holes that are 20-30 cm deep. Make them 50 cm apart. If you use pots, pick at least 2-3 gallon pots so the plant has enough nutrients.
- Take a pot with one of your seedlings and try to remove the whole plant with the soil first. You can loosen the soil by gently shaking and knocking the pot.
- Once you have the soil outside the pot, separate seedlings if you planted more than one. The goal is to remove the soil and see the roots without breaking any of them. They are very fragile so be extra careful.
- Put the roots inside the hole in the ground at a dept that will cover the roots and the first 5 cm of the green stem with soil. Doing that will let the plant grow more roots and feed its fruits better.
- Compact the soil so there are no air pockets. You can water the area so it moves the soil in the all crevices.
- Put the cage around the plant so it is ready for it to grow inside it.
Caring for the plant
Cherry tomatoes love water. You should water the plant every 2-3 days if it does not rain. Too much water will make the fruits crack.
You can fertilize the plant every two weeks, using organic compost. Make sure it does not touch the plant as it may burn it.
Prune the dry leaves regularly. Push the branches that stick out of the cage back in it so they do not grow too far away. Heavy fruits will break them.
Sometimes cherry tomatoes get diseases. Fungus is the most common one so if you notice too many yellow leaves, dark spots, and blotches, you need to remove them immediately. You can also spray them with fungicide.
You may also see potato beetles and stink bugs. Pick them by hand and spray with natural insecticide to repel them.
You can expect to harvest about 6 to 8 weeks. Pick the ripe, red cherry tomatoes. They are ready to eat immediately. Check the plant every day as it will produce ripe tomatoes very often, especially if it is planted at a sunny place. Keep the freshly picked tomatoes at a room temperature and never in the fridge.
The plant will produce until the first frost. If you have green tomatoes then, cut the whole branches and put them inside your house at a sunny place. They will take a few days and ripen as well.
Cherry tomatoes are sensitive plants when it comes to companions, tomatoes benefit from asparagus, basil, beans, borage, carrots, celery, chives, collards, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, and peppers. Avoid planting alongside Brassicas and dill. Corn will attract tomato pests, and kohlrabi will stunt tomatoes’ growth. Potatoes may spread blight to tomatoes, so keep them apart. Do no plant tomatoes near walnut trees.
- Planting seasonmid-March to early April (indoors)
- Number of seeds1 seed per pot and 3 seeds per container
- Depth2-3 cm (1 inch) deep
- Days to maturity60 days after planting the seedlings
- Row spacing120-180 cm (47-70 inch) apart
- In-row spacing45-60 cm (17-23 inch) apart
- Sunlight8-12 hours of sun per day
- Wateringonce every 2-3 days
- Harvesting6 to 8 weeks
- PlantOrganic Cherry Tomato
- Planted on
- First seedlings date
- First harvest date