Looking for an unusual tomato, ‘Black Cherry’ could be it
Black Cherry Tomato
If you are looking for a new variety of tomato to grow this summer then ‘Black Cherry’ may be just what you are looking for. A true cherry tomato, yet also a highly unusual variety that has dark blackish-purple fruit that are only around 1inch wide. They have a rich, sweet juicy flavour and are perfect to have freshly picked with a salad.
Bred in Florida by a man named Vince Sapp, these tomatoes are easy to grow and are an indeterminate (cordan) type growing to around 6-8ft. They are perfect for growing in pots and containers on the patio in a sunny spot where you can enjoy watching the fruit ripen. They also grow well in a cold greenhouse. They are very vigorous and do require pruning as with all cordon varieties. This simply means removing any side shoots to form one central stem.
The fruits are early ripening and usually take around 60 days.
How to grow these fabulous tomatoes
These are sometimes available as plug plants, but they are very rare to see in garden centres, so ordering online is probably your best option. The seeds are available online as well and may be an option if you want to try growing this unique tomato
Sowing seeds (skip this step if you have bought ready-grown plug plants)
Sow seeds around March – April, some gardeners sow as early as February but we find March is just fine and sow them in a quality seed compost into a seed tray or large pot.
Spread seeds evenly, and make sure they are also spaced evenly as this will make transplanting them easier when the seedlings are ready to be transplanted. Once you have sown the seeds cover them with a thin layer (2-3mm) of compost or perlite and water with a fine rose watering can.
Next place them in a plant propagator with the lid on. If you do not have a propagator, then put a piece of clear plastic over them to help keep the soil moist. A little tip here is to put a few small canes into the seed tray to hold the plastic off the soil and seedlings so they don’t touch the plastic when they germinate.
Place in a sunny position but not in direct sunlight as seedlings can get scorched. The seedling should germinate within about 10-14 days but this varies depending on how warm they are. If you grow them in a propagator with heating underneath they will germinate quicker.
Once the seeds germinate, remove the plastic sheet or propagator cover and grow on until they have two sets of leaves fully open, strong stems and roots. They should be ready to pot on in around 3-4 weeks from germinating.
Seeds available from Thompson & Morgan here
Once they are large enough, you can pot them on into small individual pots, 9cm pots are perfect. Mix quality potting compost with 20% perlite and mix in well as this helps with drainage.
Pot the tomatoes up making sure that you are holding them by their leaves to avoid damaging the stem. Grow them on until established in their new pots, making sure the temperature is a minimum of 15C (59F). Start to harden them off for a few weeks before planting outside. Tomatoes cannot be planted out until the risk of frost has passed which in most parts of the UK is usually around the end of May
Black Cherry tomatoes are ideal for growing in pots on the patio. Pots with holes in will ensure stronger healthier plants and use good quality compost mixed with 20% perlite. You can purchase air pots for this reason or you can simply drill small holes into a pot yourself.
Watering and feeding Black Cherry tomatoes
Tomato plants need a constant supply of water, the aim is to keep the compost moist but not wet. You will probably need to water once a day in summer once they are established. Start to feed when flowers appear with a high in potash feed, you can buy tomato feed for this and feed as directed on the instructions. Too much water can rot the roots whilst inconsistent watering or dry soil can lead to ‘tomato blossom rot’ where the tomatoes turn black and the skins can crack.