How to Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: Savor Their Rich Flavor

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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.

Basic Information

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:

TopicInformation
Common nameCherokee purple tomatoes
Scientific nameSolanum lycopersicum
Days to harvest70-85 days
LightFull sun
SoilWell-drained, fertile soil
WaterRegular, consistent watering
FertilizerIncrease phosporus when fruiting
PestsAphids, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms
DiseasesEarly 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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Hardening Off

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.

Planting

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

Sun

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.

Temperature

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

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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 high quality organic 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

Water

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.

Mulch

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

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

tomato-hornworm

Like all tomato plants, Cherokee purple tomatoes are susceptible to pests and diseases. Here are some tips for managing common issues:

Pests

Keep an eye out for these common tomato pests:

PestSymptomsTreatment
AphidsCurling leaves, distorted growth, sticky residueRemove infested leaves, spray with insecticidal soap
WhitefliesWhite flies on leaves, yellowing, wiltingUse yellow sticky traps, spray with neem oil or insecticidal soap
Tomato hornwormsLarge green caterpillars, defoliationHandpick and destroy, use biological controls like Bacillus thuringiensis
Snails/slugsHoles in leaves, slime trailsHandpick, use diatomaceous earth or beer traps

TIP: Companion plant basil with your tomatoes for natural pest control.

Diseases

To prevent diseases, avoid overhead watering, provide adequate air circulation, and remove any infected leaves or plants promptly.

DiseaseSymptomsTreatment
Early blightBrown spots on leaves, defoliationRemove infected leaves, apply copper fungicide
Late blightBrown spots on leaves, fruit rotRemove infected leaves and fruit, apply copper fungicide
Fusarium wiltYellowing, wilting, stunted growthRemove infected plants, practice crop rotation
Verticillium wiltYellowing, wilting, stunted growthRemove 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

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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.

TIP: If you grow heirloom varieties, be sure and save tomato seeds to plant next year!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Conclusion

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 the harvest.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the comment section below. Happy gardening!

FAQ: How to Grow Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Can you grow Cherokee Purple tomatoes in containers?

Yes, Cherokee Purple tomatoes can be grown in containers. Choose a container that is at least 5 gallons in size, has drainage holes, and use a well-draining potting mix. Place the container in a sunny spot and provide regular watering and fertilizing for healthy growth.

Is Cherokee Purple tomato hybrid or heirloom?

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are classified as an heirloom tomato variety. They are known for their unique flavor, deep purple color, and rich history as an old-fashioned, open-pollinated tomato variety that has been passed down through generations.

Do Cherokee Purple tomatoes self-pollinate?

Yes, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are self-pollinating plants. This means that they have both male and female reproductive organs within the same flower, allowing them to pollinate themselves without the need for cross-pollination from other plants.

How many Cherokee Purple tomatoes per plant?

The number of Cherokee Purple tomatoes per plant can vary depending on various factors such as growing conditions, pruning, and care. On average, a healthy Cherokee Purple tomato plant can yield about 20 tomatoes with each fruit weighing up to 12 ounces.

How do you keep Cherokee Purple tomatoes from splitting?

To prevent Cherokee Purple tomatoes from splitting, it’s important to maintain consistent and even moisture levels in the soil. Avoid overwatering or letting the soil dry out too much between watering. Mulching around the base of the plants can also help to retain moisture and prevent fluctuations in soil moisture levels. Additionally, avoid sudden changes in temperature and humidity, as these can also cause the tomatoes to split.

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