The consumer is already accustomed to the endless variety of varieties and hybrids of tomatoes that fill the horticultural market these days, but still always want something new and unusual. Cherry tomatoes do not seem to be a novelty, many got to know them better not only during a festive meal, but also by trying to grow them on their own. Well, many just look at them closer, and no, no, and the thought will flicker, and not try to grow them on your site.
Moreover, among these amazing babies there are varieties that can be grown at home, on a windowsill or on a balcony. But wherever you are going to grow them in the future, seedlings of cherry tomatoes should definitely decorate your windowsills, if you decide to take up this culture. After all, cherry tomatoes - even the earliest varieties - cannot be sown directly into the ground in our short summer. They simply will not have time to ripen. Therefore, it is necessary to take a closer look at the features of growing seedlings of these crumbs.
What are cherry tomatoes
Among the variety of small varieties, many even experienced gardeners sometimes do not see the difference between cherry, cocktail and currant tomatoes. Or even for simplicity, they are all called cherry tomatoes. But this is not entirely correct, since these types of tomatoes differ not only in size, but also in internal content.
Currant - the smallest of the tomatoes, literally weighing 5-10 g, grow in long clusters of 40-60 fruits each and really resemble bunches of currant berries. The taste of the fruits is sweet and sour and they only vaguely resemble tomatoes.
Cocktail - represent the newest direction of breeding. They are larger in size than cherry tomatoes, from 30 to 60 g, and are distinguished by a delicious taste, due to the increased content of fructose and a rather strong aroma.
Cherry tomatoes - in size are located in the middle between the above two types, fruits from 10 to 30 g. But the most important thing that distinguishes them from all other tomatoes, including large-fruited, is the double concentration of dry nutrients and sugars in the cell juice. And breeders have also managed to bring out cherry tomatoes with strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and melon flavors. Therefore, they are perceived by many more like fruits than vegetables. And the most varied color of cherry tomatoes also contributes a lot to this.
So, you decided to grow this miracle vegetable-fruit and please your loved ones with the exotic taste of cherry tomatoes. To determine the approximate timing of planting cherry tomato seeds for seedlings, you must first decide on the choice of a specific variety. After all, if initially cherry tomatoes were created by breeders in Israel, as a result of an experiment on slow ripening in hot climates, and therefore differed in late ripening and an extended fruiting period, nowadays many early ripening varieties of cherry have been created.
In addition, you need to think about where you are going to plant cherry tomato seedlings in the future. If to a greenhouse, then the choice of varieties is practically unlimited, if to garden beds, then it is necessary to choose special varieties intended for growing in open ground.
Once you have decided on your cherry tomato variety, find out the length of the growing season - it is usually indicated on the bag in the description. Then subtract that number of days from the date of the expected or desired harvest. Subtracting another 4-5 days (average seed germination time), you will get the approximate timing of planting cherry tomato seeds for seedlings.
Of course, there may be a desire to get a harvest of cherry tomatoes in May, and theoretically this is quite possible, but only with the use of constant additional lighting in the winter months of growing seedlings and the presence of a heated greenhouse. Although, some gardeners have already mastered the technology of growing cherry tomatoes in indoor conditions - for this you need to choose only special indoor low-growing varieties.
Advice! When grown in a greenhouse, even earlier planting of cherry tomato seedlings in the greenhouse soil is possible using additional film covers for seedlings.
The harvest will ripen earlier and will be even more abundant.
For most regions, sowing cherry tomatoes for seedlings in March will be optimal.
Sowing containers and soil
There are two methods for growing cherry tomato seedlings: without a pick and with a pick. When using the first method, it is assumed that there will be not very many seedlings and seeds, so you can sow directly into separate containers or pots. If you need a large number of cherry tomato seedlings for sale, treats to friends or your large plot, then it is better to sow cherry tomato seeds initially in one flat container, so that later they can be cut into separate pots.
In the first case, ready-made plastic cassettes or so-called nurseries are great for sowing. This is a set of several plastic containers - cups placed in one deep tray. They are convenient for uneven emergence - individual cups can be moved to lighter and cooler conditions, while the rest will remain warm until germination. You can see a photo of such a nursery below.
Attention! Regardless of where the cherry tomato seeds were sown, for full development before planting in the ground, the seedlings will need to be transshipped / dived into separate large containers.
In garden markets and in specialized stores, a huge variety of all kinds of soil for planting is now presented for all occasions. For sowing cherry tomato seeds, it is better to choose either soil for tomatoes and peppers, or soil for growing seedlings. When buying, it is best to focus on well-known manufacturers, although in any case it is advisable to calcine any soil in the oven or spill it with a solution of biofungicides (phytosporin or glyocladin) before sowing. If the soil seems too moist and dense to you, it is best to add baking powder such as perlite or vermiculite to it.
Seed treatment before sowing
There are many operations that are carried out with seeds of cherry tomatoes to increase their germination, disinfection, as well as increase the resistance and resistance to diseases of future seedlings. The main ones are listed below - this does not mean at all that it is necessary to apply them all. Pick a few that seem most suitable and uncomplicated to you, and process your cherry tomato seeds before planting them.
- Sorting in 3% saline solution - the floating seeds are thrown away.
- Warming up in hot water - seeds in a cloth bag are placed in a thermos with hot water (45 ° -50 ° C) for 20-30 minutes. Then they are immediately sent to cool under cold water for 2-3 minutes.
- Soaking in a nutrient solution - you can use home remedies for soaking: honey, aloe juice, a solution of wood ash, and purchased bags with microelements and biofertilizers.
- Treatment with growth stimulants is the same soaking, only a variety of growth stimulants are used: Epin, Zircon, HB-101, Immunocytophyte, Energen, Succinic acid and many others. Instructions for obtaining a working solution are usually found on the packaging itself.
- Bubbling is the treatment of cherry seeds in water that is actively saturated with oxygen or air. It is usually carried out using an aquarium compressor, the hose of which is placed in a jar of water.
- Hardening - soaked seeds alternate in the content for 12 hours either at a temperature of + 20 + 25 ° С, then in a refrigerator at a temperature of + 2-3 ° С.
- Germination - seeds of cherry tomatoes, after all treatments, are germinated in a damp cloth in a warm place, until seedlings appear.
From sowing to the first transshipment / picking
The day before sowing, the prepared soil must be well moistened, mixed and hidden in a plastic bag in order to be sure of uniform moisture before sowing the seeds.
On the day of sowing, fill the prepared containers with soil and plant the seeds at a shallow depth (about 0.5-1 cm), since the seeds of cherry tomatoes are slightly smaller than usual. With a large number of seeds and using separate planting containers, it is recommended to sow 2 seeds per cup. And later, after the emergence of seedlings, choose one of them, the strongest and strongest, and remove the other.
After sowing the seeds, the containers must be covered with polyethylene or glass to create greenhouse conditions of high humidity and placed in a warm place (+ 22 ° + 27 ° C). The crops do not need light at this stage.
If the seeds of cherry tomatoes are fresh and have undergone at least some preliminary treatment, germination can begin in a day or two.
Check and ventilate the improvised greenhouse 2 times a day and when the first shoots appear, create completely different conditions for them. They are placed in the brightest place and the temperature drops quite significantly, up to + 14 ° + 16 ° С during the day and preferably another 2-3 degrees lower at night. This technique prevents the seedlings from pulling out and has a beneficial effect on the development of the root system of young cherry tomatoes.
There is no need to water the seedlings until the first cotyledon leaves are fully opened. In general, when watering cherry tomato seedlings, the basic rule should apply - it is better not to add a little than to pour. Although with the onset of warm, and, most importantly, sunny weather, daily watering of seedlings will most likely be necessary. But in cloudy weather, every time before watering, you need to check the soil with your hand - if it is even slightly wet, there is no need for watering.
When the first two true leaves open, cherry tomato seedlings, if grown in one flat container, need to be picked and planted in separate pots. Here, the opinions of experts differ: some advise to pinch the main root by one third of the length when transplanting, others believe that this does not need to be done, since, on the contrary, this procedure slows down the development of plants. The choice is yours - both options are equally used in growing cherry tomato seedlings at home.
When planting plants in new containers, they can and even need to be buried to the first cotyledon leaves. Tomatoes are very supportive of this procedure and are actively beginning to grow additional roots.
If cherry tomatoes were originally grown by you in separate cups or cells, then they also need to be transferred into large containers without disturbing the previous root ball. But the terms of this procedure can be more extended in time, from the first to 4-5 leaves. If roots begin to emerge from the bottom of the cups, the transhipment of seedlings cannot be postponed longer. Roots need freedom for the active development of plants.
From the first transplant to planting seedlings in the ground
About a week after the first transplant, cherry tomato seedlings can be fed for the first time. Up to this point, the plants have had enough nutrients in the soil. Moreover, it is advisable to put about a tablespoon of vermicompost or other organic fertilizer together with the soil mixture in each new container at the first transplant. In this case, you can wait another 2-3 weeks before the next feeding. If your cherry tomato seedlings seem to be stunted or uncomfortable with their appearance, foliar top dressing is best for quick help. To do this, you need to dilute any complex fertilizer with trace elements in a sprayer according to the instructions (for cherry tomatoes, the presence of boron and iron is required) and spray the growing seedlings with this solution.
The effect of foliar feeding is almost instantaneous, in contrast to the traditional one, since the nutrients are immediately absorbed by the leaves and supplied to all parts of the cherry tomato plant.
Before planting seedlings in the ground, it must be fed 2-3 more times. Or you can, if space permits on the windowsill, transfer it several times into large containers, each time adding fresh soil mixed with organic fertilizers (vermicompost, humus). In this case, feeding is optional.
Before planting in the ground, cherry tomato seedlings should be about 55-65 days old, but, most importantly, it should have a strong thick stem, pencil-thick and up to 30 cm high.There should be at least eight true leaves. The photo below shows what a strong and healthy cherry tomato seedling should look like.
Two weeks before the expected planting, especially when it comes to open ground, seedlings of cherry tomatoes must be hardened. To do this, containers with tomato seedlings are exposed outside in good weather at temperatures ranging from + 16 ° C for several hours. Gradually, the time the seedlings stay on the street is brought to 12 hours. Seedlings of cherry tomatoes are planted in the ground only when the average air temperature reaches + 16 ° C. Therefore, in the middle lane and to the north, it is recommended to grow cherry tomatoes in greenhouse conditions in order to fully enjoy the garlands of delicious fruits.
So sow seeds, grow cherry tomato seedlings and, gaining additional experience in growing these exotic tomatoes, please your loved ones with delicious and varied dishes and preparations from very healthy, sweet and beautiful fruits.