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If you love the idea of growing your own juicy and flavorful tomatoes, then Cherokee Purple tomatoes are an excellent choice! These heirloom tomatoes are known for their unique purple-black color and rich, sweet flavor.
In this article, we will explore how to grow Cherokee Purple tomatoes in your own garden, from starting seeds to caring for the plants, and dealing with common problems that may arise.
These heirloom tomatoes are known for their unique purple-black color and rich, sweet flavor.Before we delve into the details of growing Cherokee Purple tomatoes, let’s take a quick look at some basic information about these tomatoes in the table below:
|Common name||Cherokee purple tomatoes|
|Scientific name||Solanum lycopersicum|
|Days to harvest||70-85 days|
|Soil||Well-drained, fertile soil|
|Water||Regular, consistent watering|
|Fertilizer||Increase phosporus when fruiting|
|Pests||Aphids, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms|
|Diseases||Early blight, late blight, and fusarium wilt|
Now that we have a basic understanding of Cherokee Purple tomatoes, let’s dive into the details of how to grow them!
How to Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes from Seed
If you’re excited to grow Cherokee purple tomatoes in your garden, you most like need to start them from seed. You’ll rarely find seedlings at the local nursery.
- Choose a high-quality seed starting mix: Look for a seed starting mix that is lightweight and well-draining. Avoid using regular potting soil, as it may be too heavy and can cause seedlings to dampen off or rot.
- Plant the seeds: Fill seed trays or pots with the seed starting mix and plant the Cherokee purple tomato seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Place 2 seeds per cell. If both grow, you can cul the weaker seedling later. This ensures that you’ll get at least one seedling to germinate in each cell.
- Provide warmth and light: Place the seed trays in a warm location, such as a sunny windowsill or under seedling grow lights. Cherokee purple tomatoes need temperatures of around 70-75°F (21-24°C) to germinate, so use a seedling heat mat if you don’t have a warm enough spot in your home.
- Keep the soil consistently moist: Keep the seed starting mix evenly moist, but not soggy. Use of a humidity dome can help prevent the soil from drying out. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause the seeds to rot. Use a misting spray bottle to water the seeds gently or bottom water by placing the seed tray in a shallow tray of water until the top of the soil is moist.
- Transplant the seedlings: Once the seedlings have grown their first couple sets of true leaves, which are the leaves that come after the initial cotyledon leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into individual 4″ nursery pots. Choose the strongest and healthiest seedlings to transplant, and handle them carefully to avoid damaging the delicate stems.
Transplanting into the Garden
Hardening off is a crucial step, allowing young seedlings to adjust to the outdoor environment gradually. It involves gradually exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions, such as sunlight, wind, and temperature fluctuations, over a period of 7-10 days before transplanting them into the garden. Hardening off helps to prevent transplant shock, which can stress the plants and hinder their growth, resulting in stronger and more resilient seedlings that are better equipped to thrive in the garden.
It’s important to dig holes large enough to accommodate the root system of the seedlings, and gently place them in the holes, avoiding any damage to the roots. If your tomato plants are leggy, the stem of the seedling can be buried to within an inch below the first set of leaves without harming it.
Providing adequate spacing between them allows them to establish themselves well in their new environment and promotes healthy growth. Indeterminate varieties such as this can be spaced about 12-18″ apart.
Once your Cherokee Purple tomato seedlings have established, they require proper care and maintenance to ensure healthy growth. Here are some key aspects of care and maintenance for Cherokee purple tomatoes:
Lighting and Temperature
Cherokee Purple tomatoes thrive in full sun, which means they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Make sure to plant them in a sunny spot in your garden or provide them with adequate light if growing indoors. If you notice that your plants are not receiving enough sunlight, you may need to consider pruning nearby trees or moving the pots to a sunnier location.
Cherokee purple tomatoes need plenty of sunlight to grow and produce fruits. Make sure to place your tomato plants in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you’re growing them indoors, ensure that they are placed under grow lights that provide adequate light intensity and duration.
Cherokee Purple tomatoes thrive in warm weather and prefer temperatures between 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and around 60-70°F (15-21°C) at night. They are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures, which can cause damage or even death to the plants. Therefore, it’s crucial to plant Cherokee purple tomatoes after the last frost date in your area
Nutritional Requirements and Soil Preparation
When preparing the soil for Cherokee Purple tomatoes, it’s important to create a well-draining and nutrient-rich environment. This can be achieved by incorporating organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or peat moss into the soil to improve its structure and fertility.
Additionally, amending the soil with things like bone meal, blood meal, and greensand before planting can provide a slow release of nutrients.
The optimal pH range for Cherokee Purple tomatoes is slightly acidic to neutral, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If your soil pH is too acidic (below 6.0), you can add lime or wood ash to raise the pH and make it more alkaline. If your soil pH is too alkaline (above 7.0), you can add sulfur or peat moss to lower the pH and make it more acidic.
Fertilize Properly When You Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization for optimal growth and fruit production. For best tomato production and growth, use a purpose-made tomato fertilizer. Follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency, and avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of fruit production.
Watering, Mulching, and Pruning Techniques
Tomatoes, including Cherokee purple tomatoes, require consistent moisture to thrive. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, throughout the growing season. Water deeply and thoroughly, allowing the water to reach the root zone of the plants. Avoid getting the foliage wet as it can lead to the development of diseases. Consistent watering will also prevent tomatoes from cracking.
Mulching is important for conserving moisture, suppressing weeds, and maintaining a stable soil temperature. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, leaves, or wood chips, around the base of your Cherokee purple tomato plants. Mulch also helps prevent the fruit from coming into direct contact with the soil, reducing the risk of diseases and rot.
Pruning is not required for Cherokee purple tomatoes. However, it can help improve air circulation, reduce disease pressure, and promote better fruit development. If you choose to prune, remove suckers, which are the shoots that develop in the axils of the leaves, using clean and sharp pruners. Leave the main stem and the top growth intact, as they are responsible for fruit production. Most gardeners prune away suckers leaving only 2 or 3 main stems.
Supporting the Plants
Indeterminate tomato plants, including Cherokee purple tomatoes, benefit from support to prevent them from sprawling on the ground and to keep the fruits off the soil. Use stakes or a trellis to support your tomato plants and train them to grow upright. Tie the stems loosely to the support structure with soft plant ties, and adjust the ties as the plants grow.
Common Problems: Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Like all tomato plants, Cherokee purple tomatoes are susceptible to pests and diseases. Here are some tips for managing common issues:
Keep an eye out for these common tomato pests:
|Aphids||Curling leaves, distorted growth, sticky residue||Remove infested leaves, spray with insecticidal soap|
|Whiteflies||White flies on leaves, yellowing, wilting||Use yellow sticky traps, spray with neem oil or insecticidal soap|
|Tomato hornworms||Large green caterpillars, defoliation||Handpick and destroy, use biological controls like Bacillus thuringiensis|
|Snails/slugs||Holes in leaves, slime trails||Handpick, use diatomaceous earth or beer traps|
To prevent diseases, avoid overhead watering, provide adequate air circulation, and remove any infected leaves or plants promptly.
|Early blight||Brown spots on leaves, defoliation||Remove infected leaves, apply copper fungicide|
|Late blight||Brown spots on leaves, fruit rot||Remove infected leaves and fruit, apply copper fungicide|
|Fusarium wilt||Yellowing, wilting, stunted growth||Remove infected plants, practice crop rotation|
|Verticillium wilt||Yellowing, wilting, stunted growth||Remove infected plants, practice crop rotation|
Note: Prevention is key in managing pests and diseases. Regular monitoring, practicing good hygiene, and using cultural practices such as crop rotation. Provide proper spacing between plants can help prevent outbreaks.
Harvesting and Storing: Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Cherokee purple tomatoes are ready for harvest when they are fully ripe and have a deep purple color with a slightly soft texture. To harvest, gently twist or cut the fruits from the plant using pruning shears or scissors. Avoid pulling or yanking the fruits, as it can damage the plant. Tomatoes are best when allowed to ripen on the vine, but if you need to store them, you can harvest them before they are fully ripe. Then place them in a cool, dark place and allow them to finish ripening.
Recipes and Culinary Uses for Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Cherokee purple tomatoes are known for their rich and sweet flavor, making them a popular choice for salads, sandwiches, sauces, and other culinary creations. They can be used fresh or cooked, and are prized for their unique color and taste. Here are some ideas for enjoying your Cherokee purple tomatoes:
- Fresh in salads: Slice or dice your ripe Cherokee purple tomatoes and toss them in a salad with fresh greens, herbs, and a simple vinaigrette for a refreshing and flavorful side dish.
- Sandwiches: Layer slices of Cherokee purple tomatoes in sandwiches with other fresh ingredients like lettuce, avocado, bacon, and cheese for a delicious and juicy sandwich bursting with flavor.
- Salsas and sauces: Chop Cherokee purple tomatoes and combine them with onions, peppers, cilantro, and lime juice to make a flavorful salsa. You can also cook them down with some herbs and spices to make a rich and tangy tomato sauce for pasta, pizza, or other dishes.
- Caprese salad with Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: Arrange slices of Cherokee purple tomatoes on a plate with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a classic Caprese salad that showcases the vibrant color and taste of the tomatoes.
- Grilled or roasted: Brush Cherokee purple tomato slices with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and grill or roast them for a few minutes on each side until they are slightly charred and softened. This brings out their natural sweetness and adds a smoky flavor that can be a delicious addition to various dishes.
- Stuffed Cherokee Purple tomatoes: Scoop out the insides of Cherokee purple tomatoes and fill them with a mixture of cooked grains, herbs, cheese, and other fillings for a tasty and nutritious appetizer or side dish.
- Tomato tarts or galettes: Use Cherokee purple tomatoes as a topping for homemade tarts or galettes, along with cheese, herbs, and other ingredients, for a rustic and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a brunch or light meal.
Remember to store your Cherokee purple tomatoes at room temperature and away from direct sunlight until they are ripe. You can refrigerate any leftover tomatoes to extend their shelf life. Enjoy the unique flavor and beauty of Cherokee purple tomatoes in your culinary creations, and share the bounty with friends and family!
FAQ: How to Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Growing Cherokee purple tomatoes can be a rewarding and delicious experience for any gardener. With their unique color, rich flavor, and versatility in the kitchen, they are a favorite among tomato enthusiasts. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can successfully grow Cherokee purple tomatoes in your own garden and enjoy their bountiful harvest.
Remember to start with healthy seeds, provide optimal growing conditions, and care for your plants diligently throughout the growing season. Keep an eye out for common pests and diseases, and take appropriate measures to manage them. Harvest your tomatoes when they are fully ripe for the best flavor and enjoy them in a variety of culinary creations.
We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and practical advice on how to grow Cherokee purple tomatoes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different techniques in your garden. Gardening is a hands-on learning experience, and each season presents new opportunities to improve your skills and knowledge.
We would love to hear about your experiences with growing Cherokee purple tomatoes or any other gardening tips you have to share. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the comment section below. Happy gardening!
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