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One of the joys of summer is standing in the garden eating sun-warmed cherry tomatoes right off the vine.
These succulent, bite-sized jewels concentrate all the flavor of a full sized tomato into a package that is less than 2" in diameter. They are sweeter, perfectly shaped, and have thinner skin than regular tomatoes.
Though highly addictive, cherry tomatoes are good for you—rich in calcium, iron, lycopene, and vitamins A & C. Easy to grow, many cherry tomato plants have a built-in resistance to some of the diseases that will kill a regular tomato plant. They are strong, fast growing, prolific plants and some will begin to fruit in less than 60 days from transplanting.
If you don't have a garden, try growing a cherry tomato plant in a pot. There are several varieties bred specifically for container growing.
We have tried 'Terenzo', 'Lizzano', and 'Tumbling Tom'. All of them form bushy, compact plants that adapt to life in a large nursery pot or hanging basket and bear lots of small but tasty cherry tomatoes.
A new one that I will be on the lookout for next year is 'Rambling Rose', a pink cherry tomato developed at the University of NH specifically for growing in containers.
Regular cherry tomato plants can also be grown in containers, they just need more room. A 5-gallon bucket (with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage) will hold one plant. Grow it near a porch or up a trellis to keep the plants off the ground.
Most cherry tomatoes are indeterminates, meaning they will keep on growing, flowering, and bearing fruit until frost kills them.
Supporting Cherry Tomato Vines
They are vines and can get to be quite tall so they need to be supported. Forget about an ordinary tomato cage, they will outgrow it in no time. You'll have to get creative.
We grow ours in the ground and put rebar at the ends of the rows and at every sixth plants or so. As the plants grow, I weave baling twine around the plants and the rebar stakes, wattle-weave fashion. It forms a living fence of tomato plants known as a Florida weave. I go as high as I can reach and then the plant are on their own. I can't lug a ladder out to the garden every time I want to pick some tomatoes! We have plants that topped a seven foot tall fence and continued growing back down the other side!
Best Varieties of Cherry Tomatoes
There are lots of varieties to choose from. A few of our favorite cherry tomatoes are:
'Sungold' plants grow quite large and are one of the first to bear fruit in our garden. They continues to bear heavily until frost. These bite-sized golden beauties are the most delicious thing you can imagine. The only problem with 'Sungold" is that their thin skin has a tendency to crack.
'Sun Sugar' looks and tastes just like 'Sungold' but the fruits don't split as easily.
"Isis Candy' has fruits that are marbled with red and gold and are very flavorful.
'Chadwick' and 'Fox' are both heirloom red cherry tomatoes that have tangy true tomato flavor and are vigorous growers.
'Chocolate' and 'Black' are two dark-skinned cherry varieties that have the rich flavor found in some of the black slicing tomatoes. They add a unique color to a salad.
'Sweet Treats' has phenominal flavor and is a deep ruby red color. It is resistant to many diseases.
'Honeydrop' has amber-colored fruit that lives up to its name. They are sweet as a drop of honey.
If you grow nothing else this summer, treat yourself to one cherry tomato plant and savor their flavor.