Everglades Cherry Tomatoes
Eveglades Cherry Tomato
days to maturity: 57 days
plant spacing: 2 square feet per plant
sunlight requirement: 8 - 14 hours
look out for: Hornworms - if you you see branches without any leaves or half eaten fruits look carefully for green caterpillars.
harvest notes: Pick tomatoes when they are as ripe as possible. They should be fully colored and firm and picked regularly to avoid overloading plants.
Everglades cherry tomatoes are a cult favorite down here in South Florida, and for good reason. Legend has it that these were found "growing wild" throughout the everglades, and after their discovery the seeds were saved and distributed by local gardeners who were looking for a tomato that could stand the extreme heat and humidity of a South Florida summer. Nowadays they're a staple in summer and winter gardens throughout the area. Their tiny size makes them adorable for use in salads, as garnish, and as snacks, and their sweet tase make them irresistible. These wild cherry tomatoes make large highly branched plants that are best grown in a wild and non-trellised fashion. If allowed to grow like a groundcover, left to sprawl and crawl along the ground they can make enormous plants with hundreds of fruit clusters on one plant!
Allow a few clusters of Everglades cherry tomatoes to stay on the plant and they will happily reseed themselves year after year. If you'd like to save the seeds instead just choose a few very ripe fruits, squeeze the insides out into a jar with water, allow it to ferment for a few days (this simulated the digestive system of an animal and will break down the mucilaginous coating around the seed) and then dry on a towel.
Despite its tolerance of the tropical heat Everglades cherry tomatoes can be grown anywhere where all other tomato varieties are. A tip for harvesting the tiny sweet fruits: instead of picking fruit by fruit, cut the entire cluster off the vine when all the fruit is most of the way ripe. Alternatively, break the fruit off of the vine one by one with their little green hat on (the technical term is "peduncle") since the fruits skin tends to rip when its removed hastily.