Cherry tomatoes are first to ripen
Big cherries on heavy vines
Pop'em in your mouth straight off the vine
These little tomatoes are the first to ripen. My first ripe tomato: Sungold (F1) Solanum lycopersicum
Sungold is very sweet and bright tangerine-orange cherry tomatoes Vigorous plants start yielding early and bear right through the season. Find theme at the farmers market or grow you own. These sweet gems tend to split easily, so you won't find them in the grocery store.
Get the heaviest production from well fed and regularly watered plants. Unless you want to pick tomatoes while standing on a step ladder, do not over feed. Too much fertilizer will just encourage plant growth.
Few of these bright orange tomatoes make it to the kitchen during in the first weeks of production. They are consumed just picked and sun warmed straight off the vine.
- F1 means this is a tomato hybrid. Don't bother saving seed, because there's no guarantee the plant will produce true Sun Gold tomatoes. A packet of seed goes a long way. After all how many cerry tomatoes do you want to grow?
Favorite seed varieties
Start cherry tomatoes as you would full size tomato. About 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your region, sow seed indoors under grow lights. Sow seeds 1” apart and cover with 1/2” of seed starting mix. Provide 16-18 hours of light.
Do not fertilize the seeds. Keep soil mix moist but not soggy. It will take 7-14 for seedlings to emerge. Ideal temperature is 70-75 degrees. When the first set of true leaves has emerge.
When the first set of true leaves have emerged and seedlings are 2-3” it is time transplant.
Plant each individual seedling into a 3-4” pot. Lightly fertilize with half strength fertilizer every two weeks.
Keep plants very close to light source to prevent leggy or spindly stems. When it is time for transplanting outdoors, it is time to harden off plants. Gradually introduce little tomato plants to outdoors, first place out doors in shade.
Extend the time tomato plants are outside gradually, bringing plants indoors overnight. When you think it is time to transplant, wait one more week. The tomato plant will gain no advantage by planting it in cool garden soil.
Cherries grow in heavy clusters
Grow your own again and again
Properly stored, you can keep tomato seed 3 or 4 years. Keep them dry, out of the sun, sealed in an air tight container. I use a heavy duty ziplock bag.
Get seed in most garden catalogs. I bought my seed from:
Baker Creek "Riesentraube" - the fruit grows in large clusters, meaning "Giant Bunch of Grapes" in German. It is a big heirloom cherry size, round and red.
"Black Cherry" heirloom tomatoes are large, purple-brown grapes with that rich black tomato flavor.
Renee' Garden, “Garden Candy” is a trio of cherry tomatoes: yellow Sweet Gold, red Supersweet 100 and orange Sungold
"Red & Yellow Mini Pear" - a small sized red and yellow pear shaped tomatoes. Makes the prettiest salads ever.
and "Black Cherry"
Read more about tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Their sweetness is consentrated even more when dehydrated.
Food dehydrators for cherry tomatoes
Preserving tomato flavor
The secret of sun dried tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are the first of the season. As the full size tomatoes take center stage, the cherry tomatoes don't slow down. To take advantage of this non stop tomato production, invest in a food dehydrator.
Add intense sun dried tomato flavor in winter soups, on pizza or, in spaghetti sauce. Riesentraube are rich and sweet fresh off the vine, drying simply intensifies their flavor.
Living next to the Mississippi River, the air is usually too humid for fruits to dry naturally, but a 5-tray food dehydrator makes fast work of drying cherry tomatoes. I cut each tomato in half and fill the trays in a single layer.
Oven dry tomatoes
You can also dry tomatoes in an oven on 100-degree F for about 3 hours. Snack on the dried cherry tomatoes or store in a heavy plastic zipper bag in the freezer.
The vast majority of sun dried tomatoes are commercially dried or dehydrated, not actually dried by the sun. It is actually cleaner, safer and faster to make dried fruits and vegetables in a food dehydrator.