Among the many varieties of tomatoes, there is one that distinguishes itself thanks to its mini fruits that are sweet, juicy and simply perfect to be consumed raw or cooked.
This awesome variety of tomato is commonly called cherry tomato and its popularity made many people wonder how to grow cherry tomatoes in their gardens or in their balconies.
For all those who want to grow their own cherry tomato plants, there is good news. Cherry tomatoes are extremely easy to grow both outdoors and indoors and, if cured well, cherry tomato plants will have high yields and long lifespans.
How To Grow Cherry Tomatoes In The Garden
Terrain And Climate
When it comes to soil preference, cherry tomatoes thrive in slightly acidic, highly nutrient terrains, with a pH between 6 and 6,8. Nevertheless, since the plants adapt well to adverse conditions, you will probably be able to grow beautiful plants in more acid or more alkaline terrains as well.
The terrain should be loose and rich in nutrients. For this reason, using an organic fertilizer, such as compost, might help your tomato plants to germinate and grow.
As the vast majority of the tomato varieties, cherry tomatoes love mild climates with temperatures above 70°F during the day. You should sow or transplant the seedlings when the danger of a late frost has completely passed. Ideally, the nighttime temperature should not go below 50°F.
Seeding And Transplantation
Before thinking about seeding and transplantation, you must first decide what type of plant you want. There are two types of tomato plants: indeterminate, that will grow in height continuously, and determinate, that will stop growing in height after a determined number of inflorescences.
The determinate tomato plants are extremely suitable to be grown in pots but thrive in a garden as well. Nevertheless, since the indeterminate tomato plants will produce fruits continuously throughout the warm season until the first frost, I strongly suggest choosing an indeterminate type to grow in the garden.
To grow your cherry tomatoes in the garden you will need either cherry tomato seeds or already grown seedlings bought from a local nursery.
In the first case, you should sow the seeds in early spring. They will germinate in about one week from sowing and you will be able to harvest your first cherry tomato crop after about 80 days from germination. Make sure to sow the seeds leaving at least 2 feet of space in all directions between them, so the future plants will have enough room to grow.
The easiest way is to start growing the tomatoes from seedlings. You should transplant the plants into your garden after about 6 weeks from the last frost. The seedlings should be about 10 inches tall by the time you transplant them. In this case, you will probably be able to taste your first cherry tomatoes after about 65 days from transplantation.
If you decided to go for an indeterminate type of tomato plant, you should also consider investing in tomato cages or in sticks that will help you keep the plants in an upright position. It is not advisable to let them grow on the ground as they might rot easier.
Many gardeners consider growing their cherry tomato plants in pots or raised beds rather than in the soil. In this case, you should use a pot of at least 5 gallons for each tomato plant you want to grow.
Make sure that the pot has drainage holes before filling it with a mix of potting soil and compost. Plant your cherry tomato seeds or seedlings, one per pot, and place a tomato cage or growing stick in each pot. If you want, you can choose a determinate variety that grows less tall and bushier.
Regardless of where you want to grow your tomatoes, make sure you choose a sunny spot. Ideally, your tomatoes should have at least 6 hours of full sunshine daily, possibly a combination of morning and afternoon sun.
Irrigation And Caring
Cherry tomatoes require a lot of water if you want them to thrive. You should provide about 2 inches of water per week, but make sure you test the moisture level in the soil before watering. You should also pay attention to keep the soil constantly moist.
Fortunately, cherry tomatoes don’t need special caring, being the ideal plants to be grown by everyone. You should only add a standard fertilizer once a month and prune the tomatoes regularly to encourage the fruit production.
If you choose a determinate variety, pruning will not be necessary.
The choice of the variety should actually be determined by the yield expectations you have. If you want to have a constant crop as soon as your tomato plant reaches the maturity, then you should go for an indeterminate variety.
If you’re fine with harvesting all your cherry tomatoes at once, then choose a determinate variety.
Pests And Diseases
Cherry tomatoes are generally strong and most of the times you will be able to grow a healthy plant without using any pesticides. For this reason, cherry tomatoes could be an excellent choice if you want to grow biological veggies.
However, cherry tomatoes are often subject to mildew and fungi. The leaves are a good indicator that something is wrong, so spray your cherry tomatoes as soon as you notice that the leaves are getting yellow in full season, if you notice any dark spots on the leaves or if there are any moldy blotches.
Stink bugs and potato beetles could also threat your cherry tomato plants.
Harvesting And Storage
Your cherry tomatoes will be ready to harvest after about 65 days from transplanting. You will notice when a tomato fruit is ripe because it will turn its color from green to red, yellow, orange or purple, depending on the variety.
As said above, indeterminate tomato plants will produce fruits throughout the warm season until the first frost. You will find blossoms, unripe fruits and mature tomatoes on the same plant most of the times. Determinate tomatoes mature all of their crop at once.
There are many options to store cherry tomatoes. You can keep them in the fridge for up to one week, or you can dry, can or freeze them for longer storage.
As cherry tomatoes will suffer even the slightest frost, consider harvesting all the fruits if the temperatures drop, even if they are still unripe. You can pickle them or leave them to mature on a windowsill.
How To Grow Cherry Tomatoes Indoors
If you want to grow tomato plants indoors during the cold season, or if you simply don’t have a garden but still wish to grow tomatoes, you can follow most of the steps described above but there are a few amendments to make.
Ideally, you should start from seedlings and plant the tomatoes in pots of at least 3 gallons. Place the pots in on a southern windowsill and make sure your plants get at least 12 hours of uninterrupted light daily. If that’s not possible, consider investing in a grow lamp.
You should respect the same caring and irrigation indications described above.
Now, you know how to grow cherry tomatoes, so either you want to embrace gardening or you just want to have a few tasty tomatoes growing on your windowsill, you will be able to brag about your crops.
If you have any doubts or tips to share with us, please leave a comment below.
And don’t forget, an indeterminate variety could prove to be more suitable to grow in the garden, while a determinate plant will be easier to grow indoors.