Cherry tomatoes are the tiny tomatoes that will fit in your mouth whole! They grow in a bunch, called a truss, and whilst some grow on a vine that climbs, dwarf cherry tomato grows on a small bush that only gets to 30cm tall. So, the small bush is called ‘dwarf’ and the small tomatoes are called ‘cherry’.
The great thing about a dwarf cherry tomato is that the small bush allows it to be grown in hanging baskets, pots and small spaces in the garden but it still produces masses of delicious fruit. That’s right, tomatoes are technically a ‘fruit’ although cooks refer to is as a vegetable because it is used like a vegetable in salads and savoury dishes.
Choose a spot in the garden that gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. Prepare the garden bed by removing any weeds and digging in lots of compost and organic matter. Use a dibbler or big stick to make small holes about 30cm apart and gently place one seedling into each one, pushing the soil around the roots. Water the seedlings lightly.
Dwarf cherry tomatoes are fantastic in pots and hanging baskets. They can be mixed in a large tub with other small growing herbs and vegies such as Greek basil, chives and lettuce, or they can be grown on their own in a pot that is at least 30cm deep. Fill the containers with premium potting mix, plant the seedlings in small holes and water them lightly.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Tomatoes mostly grow through the warmer months so they need to be watered every day so that the soil is always damp. As the fruit starts to form, the bush may need a fortnightly application of liquid fertiliser or perhaps an extra application of compost around the roots.
The little tomatoes are ready to eat when they have turned red. The easiest way to pick them is to use a pair of secateurs to cut off the truss of tomatoes, providing they are all red. They can be harvested individually but always keep a little bit of stalk attached to the tomato so that it stores better. Tomatoes that are not quite red when picked will continue to ripen in the fridge.
HOW TO EAT
Some of the cherry tomatoes may not even make it to the kitchen as they are so delicious eaten straight from the bush. But for those that do, simply wash them and scatter them through a salad or cut them in half and put them on a cracker with cheese and a little bit of basil. They are fantastic in sandwiches as well.
Although dwarf cherry tomatoes can be thrown into casseroles and spaghetti bolognese, they are wonderful roasted in the oven. To do this, keep them attached to the truss and put them on a baking tray, drizzle over a little olive oil and then some salt and then put the tray in a medium oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until their skin just starts to burst. These are delicious with other roast vegetables and meat.
Find some great recipes in the Smarty Plants Kitchen.
HOW THEY GROW
Dwarf tomatoes are small bushes that don’t need a frame to climb up. The seedlings simply form into a compact plant which then produces small yellow flowers called blossoms. When these have been pollinated by insects they begin to form into small fruit which change from green through to red as they ripen.
Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum
Life Cycle: Annual
When to Grow: Spring and summer (as well as autumn in warmer areas)
Height/Width: 30cm x 30cm.
Requirements: Plant in full sun and water them every day. Apply a liquid fertiliser every fortnight. Make sure the soil has lots of organic matter and compost in it.