55 days. (Indeterminate) [From seed collected in the wild near Hidalgo in eastern Mexico.] Plants bear loads of intensely sweet and flavorful ½ in. deep red cherry tomatoes. Plants are vigorous, disease-resistant, and sprawling. Self-sows readily. Always a favorite at our tomato tastings.
How to Grow: Sow seeds 6 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Plant seed 1/4 in. deep in shallow flats and maintain soil temperature in the range of 75-85 degrees F for good germination. When the seedlings have produced several leaves, transplant to 3 in. pots to promote root growth. After transplanting, keep seedlings at a lower temperature at night, 50-60 degrees F, to promote earlier flowering in some varieties. Day temperatures should rise to 75-85 degrees F to promote rapid growth. Expose plants to light and air currents to harden the plants and to encourage stockiness. Water sparingly, but do not allow the growth to be checked. Fertilize with complete, soluble fertilizer or fish emulsion if leaves become yellow and/ or purple. Keep phosphorous levels high. Too much nitrogen will delay fruiting. For transplanting to the garden, average soil temperature should be 60-65 degrees F.
Spacing: Staked plants should be spaced 24” apart. Caged plants should be spaced 36-48” apart in rows 60” apart.
Diseases: Plant disease-resistant varieties for a sustained harvest. Leaf blight diseases such as early blight and alternaria begin to appear about mid-July, and plants are more susceptible once fruit production begins. To reduce disease problems, use resistant or tolerant varieties and rotate tomatoes to different parts of the garden each year, using a 4-year rotation. Mulching and caging/staking plants helps prevent disease. Fusarium wilt (race 1), a disease caused by a soil fungus, is common in the Mid-Atlantic region during mid- to late-season. Fusarium races 1 and 2 are present in southern regions. Where fusarium wilt is present a 6-year rotation or use of resistant varieties is recommended. Do not plant eggplants, peppers, or potatoes in wilt-infested soil during the rotation period. Avoid planting tomatoes near walnut trees to avoid “walnut wilt.” Early blight and anthracnose are common in the Mid-Atlantic region, and are favored by hot, humid conditions. Late blight is more common in inland regions at higher elevations, especially during the spring and fall. Blossom-end rot is prevented by ensuring an adequate level of soil calcium and steady moisture.
Pests: Tomatoes planted in healthy soil will generally have few severe pest problems.
Foliage: Many heirlooms are “potato-leafed” – their leaves look like those of potatoes. Some folks think these larger leaves improve fruit flavor and aide pest control.
Flavor: Type of fertilizer used has an effect on flavor. Highly flavored tomatoes are sometimes subject to “off flavors” under certain growing conditions. Avoid placing freshly harvested tomatoes in the refrigerator because refrigeration will destroy much of the delicate flavor. Tomatoes are best stored at a temperature above 50 degrees F.
Maturation: Days to maturity are the number of days after transplanting.
Determinate vs. Indeterminate: Determinate varieties are short-vined plants that may not need staking, though yields will be much better if plants are staked. Indeterminate varieties are long-vined plants that bear fruit continuously. These varieties should be caged or staked. Some varieties are semi-determinate.
Mulching: Too much mulch on the soil in the spring may delay growth by preventing soil temperature from rising enough to support active root growth. In June, apply a deep mulch around plants to conserve moisture, prevent disease, and increase yield.
Yield: Too much nitrogen after transplanting will delay flowering. High levels of phosphorus are necessary to produce good yields. Pruning and staking increase early fruiting at the expense of yield. Indeterminate varieties may be pruned if necessary. Pruning of determinate varieties should be kept to a minimum. For largest yields, cages 2-1/2’ wide by 5’ tall are recommended for indeterminate varieties.
Packet: Seed size varies considerably, 0.08 to 0.16 g (about 40-83 seeds, depending on variety, average 64 seeds) sows 100’.