Sweet Cherry Tomatoes – Sow, Grow and Eat

Nearly everyone I know loves tomatoes, especially when they are homegrown and eaten straight off the vine midway through an afternoon of weeding or pruning on the plot. Are you the same?

The first cherry tomatoes of the season always feel and taste like bon-bons from the corner shop to me – but this particular little confection is even sweeter. With its dark red flesh and almost black skin Tomato ‘Black Cherry’ is as tasty as any fondant, and a great talking point when used in salads with other fruits. Plus, they’re super easy to grow.

Really? Yes… really… here’s what you have to do:

– Sow indoors now on a windowsill or in a greenhouse into well-drained peat-free compost in a seed tray, and cover lightly with soil.
– Water at the base rather than overhead as this can encourage blight, but don’t overdo it – they hate wet feet. Keep warm – around 18C to germinate – and they should be up in 7-14 days. Wrap a plastic bag around the tray or pot to act as a mini propagator.
– Once the ‘true leaves’ unfurl, pot-up into 8cm pots.
– They’ll still need 15C temperatures to flourish, so harden off by putting the plants outside in the day and bringing them in at night for around two weeks until all threat of frost has past.
– Once they’re fully-fledged, plant three per grow bag in the greenhouse or into containers outdoors.

Tips: Ensure the lowest leaves are flush with the soil or deeper to create a stronger root system. Shake the flowers gently as they arrive, like a little daily wiggle to mimic bumblebee vibrations and aid pollination. Don’t forget to also give them a good drink of a high potash fertiliser once the fruits begin to swell. Basically they need a decent amount of nutrients, liquids and little dance on a regular basis…sounds like me.

You’ll need to tie the main stem to a stake and pinch out the side shoots between the stem and the branches to focus the plants energy into fruiting.
If you can’t bear to part with the off-cuts, these can be used as cuttings to produce new plants! BONUS!

Plate Time

If any of your homegrown tasty toms make it further than the garden or plot gate, then firstly, I’m impressed and secondly, here is a few recipe ideas to bring them even more to life.

Easy Tomato Sauce: Sauté 1 onion and 1 clove crushed garlic in rapeseed oil until transparent. Plunge 2lbs Black Cherry tomatoes into very hot water and refresh in cold, removing the skins and crushing. Add to the pan and cook for a few minutes, adding a dash of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce. Spoon onto pasta, lavish onto pizza bases or freeze portions for an instant taste of summer.

Fruit Salad: As tomatoes are officially a fruit, we shouldn’t be surprised they go so well with other fruits. Mix up Black Cherry with real cherries, peaches, strawberries or watermelon. Gorgeous splashed with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar and sugar, with fresh mint leaves.

Quick Panzanella: Toss torn bread pieces in olive oil and bake in a hot oven for five minutes to toast. Halve 10oz Black Cherry tomatoes and slice half a cucumber and mix with 2oz cubed cheese and the toast morsels. Add a good handful of torn basil and drizzle in a lemon dressing made from the juice of 1 lemon, 2tbsp oil, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tbsp rice wine vinegar, seasoning and a pinch of sugar to taste.

Fried & Green: It’s easy to be left with a trug load of unripe tomatoes at the end of the summer, so try the classic South American trick of coating thick slices in flour, then whisked egg, and then breadcrumbs before frying. They’re great dipped into garlicky aioli.

Last but not least, before I say bye for now….you need to buy the seeds otherwise all of what I have suggested is impossible…so here you go:

Tomato Black Cherry (£1.95) is available from www.chilternseeds.co.uk now!

50p from each pack sold will be donated to Life at No.27, with funds going towards alternative therapy options for those battling with mental health illnesses, low confidence and loneliness.

Click the link to have a nosey and order: https://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1371R_tomato_cherry_black_cherry

When your order arrives you will also receive a personal postcard from me.

Let me know if you do grow these extra tasty bon-bon delights and also try any of the recipes.

Annabelle xx

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