How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes at Home

A few weeks ago, I started to grow a new batch of cherry tomato plants and I ended up planting a lot of seeds. I didn’t expect all of them to grow, but by God’s grace, they did! So, for quite some time now, I’ve had more than 15+ seedlings happily growing in their own cups at home. However, because we didn’t have space for these 15 cherry tomato plants anymore, I decided to give the seedlings away. I posted a photo of them on my Facebook page with a caption: “Giving away 10-15 cherry tomato seedlings. Let me know if you want one!” Surprisingly, a lot of friends left comments on the photo and accepted the challenge of growing their own cherry tomatoes at home. YOU ARE AMAZING. Thank you!!!

cherry tomato seedlings
cherry tomato seedlings

To my new gardener friends, I hope and pray that you will enjoy your gardening adventure with your new seedlings as you see them grow and bear fruit in the coming months. To show my support, I listed down some of the helpful tips I’ve learned over the past years in growing cherry tomatoes at home. Enjoy! :)

HOW TO GROW CHERRY TOMATOES AT HOME

Materials you’ll need:

  • Tomato seeds
  • A Hard Plastic Pot with holes at the bottom — at least 12”x12” in height and diameter.
  • 1 bag of loose potting soil — enough to fill the pot.
  • Fertilizer for tomatoes/vegetables
  • Long bamboo sticks or similar ones (about at least a meter tall) that can help hold the plant upright.
  • Plastic straw – for tying/securing the plant on the sticks
  • Mulch or dried leaves/straw/twigs
cherry tomatoes
cherry tomatoes

 

GROWING SEEDLINGS

Add loose potting soil to a cup (4/5 full) and lightly bury a seed or two in the soil. You can plant two seeds in one cup just in case one of them doesn’t germinate or grow. However, if both seeds successfully grow in one cup, make sure to carefully separate the two seedlings (without damaging the stem or roots) while they’re still small or about an inch tall. When the seedlings grow a few more inches (2-3”), you may now move them to a bigger container with holes at the bottom and with a good drainage system. By doing so, they will develop more roots and help the plant become more sturdy. I usually fill half of the pot/container with soil and then sprinkle some of the fertilizer before filling it up with potting soil again. Once its ready, I dig a hole in the middle of the container, remove the seedling growing in the cup of soil, and gently place it inside the hole. I also top the soil with mulch or dried twigs and leaves to help retain the moisture in the soil.

cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling

 

WATERING THE TOMATO PLANTS

As the seedlings grow in their new pot, it’s very important to regularly water them. When I was younger, I thought that watering just the leaves of the plants was the best way to provide for their H2O needs. However, after experimenting with different fruit-bearing plants over the past years, I learned that in order to keep the plant happy and healthy, we must focus on watering the soil — where the roots are. Even if we don’t water the leaves, the plant will still grow as long as we regularly water the soil and roots.

cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling

How often should we water the plants?

Once a day is enough. However, if you live in a tropical country (like me!), the plant will most likely want to be watered twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

How do you know when the water is enough or too much for the plant?

When we water plants in containers, a good way to know if we’ve added enough water is if we start to see the water come out of the drainage holes of the pot. When this happens, you may already stop watering since we know that most, if not all, parts of the soil in the pot already received water.

 

PROTECTING THE ROOTS

In the first two parts of this post, I’ve mentioned how important it is to take care of the plant’s roots. Even though we don’t usually see the roots, they play a very important part in helping the plant grow and bear fruit. Not only do they serve as a support for the whole plant, but they also absorb all the water and nutrients found in the soil! So, how can we protect the roots? It’s pretty simple. Keep them covered with soil! We don’t want the roots to be exposed under the scorching hot sun or the extremely cold weather at night. We want them to be wrapped with a blanket of soil ALWAYS. If ever you see the plant’s roots peeking or coming out every now and then, you can lightly throw more potting soil on it, until you can’t see the roots anymore.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

 

SUPPORTING THE PLANT

When I first planted tomato seeds at home, I didn’t know anything about growing them. It was only until the plant had reached its “teenage years” that I realized the importance of providing a sturdy support system for it. Supporting the plant may be done by letting it grow inside a store-bought tomato cage or by tying the plant on strong and long sticks secured on the soil.

Since I planted my tomatoes in containers (large pots and beds), I didn’t have enough space to use tomato cages. So, I made use of thick, ordinary sticks and thin bamboo sticks to secure and support the plants. I tied them on the sticks with a plastic straw (the one used in tying huge cardboard boxes). And as the plants grew, I just adjusted and added the plastic straws attached to them. Be extra careful in tying the plants. Make sure not to damage the stems or use straws/strings with sharp edges that may harm and scrape the stems.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

Although it might require a bit more effort, staking and supporting the plants early on will be very helpful, especially when the plant develops flowers and fruits.  The cherry tomatoes will eventually weigh the plant down, so it’s important to keep the main stem and branches upright and secure. We wouldn’t want them to snap off and break.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

 

FERTILIZING THE PLANTS

Tomato plants love to be fed with nutrients. So, as the plants grow, they need to be surrounded with fertilizer every now and then. I add fertilizer to the potting soil in four different stages:

  1. On the day of planting the tomato seedling
  2. When the plant is about two feet tall
  3. When the plant starts to produce flowers
  4. After it starts growing cherry tomatoes

The best thing about growing your own vegetables and fruits at home is you can control the materials added to the soil. For the past years, I’ve used organic and natural fertilizers in my soil. But, if you prefer to use chemicals, then it can still help the plant grow and bear fruit. For the natural fertilizers, you may use the ff. in your soil: compost, washed and crushed egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds, washed shrimp shells, raw fish heads, Epsom salt, etc. You may also try organic tomato fertilizer spikes sold in the hardware or gardening stores.

cherry tomato flowers
cherry tomato flowers

Note: When fertilizing tomato plants, it’s important to provide a healthy amount of nitrogen to the plant during its early stages. After the plant grows more vines and branches, you may lessen the nitrogen in-take and add more phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer-soil mixture.

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

 

HARVESTING CHERRY TOMATOES

After around 2-3 months of growing your tomato plants, cherry tomato flowers will start to appear. Yay! When this happens, the plant will then concentrate all of its energy to produce the fruits. While waiting for the flowers to turn into cherry tomatoes, you’ll need to prune the plant every now and then to make sure that the energy of the plant is directed to the fruits and not to unnecessary stems and branches. Let me introduce to you, the “suckers” of the tomato plants. These suckers or small branches grow at a 45 degree angle in between two main branches. You’ll need to carefully pluck these off especially when your plant already has flowers because if you don’t, they will suck the energy produced by the plant and less energy will go to the flowers and fruits.

"Sucker" in tomato plants.
“Sucker” in tomato plants.

It usually takes 3-4 months before a cherry tomato plant bears fruit, depending on your location and weather. As soon as you see the yellow flowers, you’ll know that it’ll only take a few more weeks before you can harvest your homegrown, juicy, and sweet tomatoes. The tomatoes can still ripen after you’ve harvested them from the plant, but I like to keep mine in the vine just until they become red (not overripe) so that they can reach its maximum sweetness. To harvest the tomatoes, you can gently twist and turn each fruit until they come off or you may cut the individual stems of the tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

So, there you have it! :) I really hope that you can explore growing cherry tomatoes at home! It is definitely a fulfilling and fun thing to do. Gardening at home has helped me so much in learning more about nature, befriending earthworms, appreciating food, developing my character, learning from my mistakes, and being reminded of how amazing God is. It really is a privilege to witness seeds grow and produce fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

Happy gardening, everyone! Feel free to share your tomato gardening experiences with me too.

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

 “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” –1 Corinthians 3:7

Making Fresh Pasta at Home

“This is so cool!” I remember saying this to my eldest sister while I was rolling the pasta dough through the machine. Making pasta from scratch has always been a fun and interesting experience for me even though it requires more effort compared to boiling raw, store-bought noodles. So, when I recently craved for pasta, I decided to hang out with my pasta machine again.

homemade fresh pasta
homemade fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta

While I was combining the flour and eggs, I already imagined the long streaks of pasta dough smoothly making their way out of the machine. However, after cutting the first two pieces of dough, my sister and I noticed that parts of the dough got stuck in the machine. It created a mess because they were stuck in between the rollers and we had to poke and push them out using a pointed knife/chopstick. Also, it was very crucial for us to thoroughly clean the pasta machine because if we left parts of the pasta dough on it and they dried up overnight, the hardened dough may eventually cause damage to the machine when we try to use it again.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta

 

During that time, I was already starting to change my mind about cooking homemade pasta because I was afraid that I would end up wasting ingredients, my time, and effort. But somehow, with the help of my sister, we continued to remove the bits that got stuck, sprinkled more flour on the rollers and dough, and proceeded with the next pieces of pasta dough. After rolling each piece of dough, I made sure to sprinkle enough flour on the machine to help roll the dough more smoothly and it worked! By God’s grace, I was able to finish rolling and cutting the pasta dough and I boiled the noodles in time for dinner.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough

Making pasta from scratch reminded me of a struggle that I face every now and then. I noticed how I was easily discouraged when things didn’t go the way I expected them to. When I made a mistake of not putting enough flour on the roller, it became such a hassle for me to clean up my mess and to start over again. In the same way, I realized that whenever I focus on my weaknesses, my past failures, and the things that I’ve done wrong, I allow these things to rob me of the joy and hope that I have in God.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough

Lamentations 3:21-23 says “I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

As mentioned in the verse above, we have hope in God knowing that his mercies are new every morning. Even if we fall or lose sight of Him every now and then, He is able to strengthen us and help us get back up again.

“We lose our way, we get back up again. It’s never too late to get back up again.
You may be knocked down but not out forever.”

-TobyMac

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil

 

Pasta Dough = 2 cups of flour and 3 eggs.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

 

Simple Sunday Snack: Shrimp Kebabs

I wasn’t feeling well when I woke up this morning because of my feverish body and sore throat. Even though it was more convenient for me to stay at home, rest, and listen to the message online, God still encouraged me to get out of my bed and go with my siblings to church. On our way out after the service, we bumped into friends and spent time talking with them. It was interesting because after spending time with them, we walked to another area (on our way to the car) and bumped into another group of friends. And this happened again and again and again. At that time, I honestly felt like I was going to faint, but by God’s grace, He gave me the strength to walk, talk, and even go home with my siblings.

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Despite my condition, I praise God for allowing me to go to church today. It was encouraging to be reminded of acknowledging God’s presence in our lives even in the way we handle our money and it was nice catching up with our friends too! I sincerely thank You, Lord!

When we got home, I started preparing Shrimp Kebabs for our additional late lunch/snack. For this simple snack, I wanted to include some of the red, cherry tomatoes growing in our veranda. And because there were more than 15 ripe cherry tomatoes in the plant, I asked my siblings and mom if they wanted to help pick fruits with me. Surprisingly, they all agreed to help!

Photo c/o my sister, Camille. :)
Photo c/o my sister, Camille. :)

I then washed the tomatoes, cleaned the shrimps, prepared the spices/marinade and grilled the juicy kebabs!

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While I was grilling the shrimps, God reminded me of my situation earlier today; of how I was so weak (and sick) at church while I was spending time with my siblings and our friends. Usually after each service, we would go straight home. But today, I noticed that God gave me opportunities to be intentional in spending time with my siblings and our friends while I had a weak and feverish body.

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Also, He allowed my siblings to help others in need (e.g. My brother did his best to assist a few guys who were having trouble starting their car in the parking lot; my eldest sister helping a new friend with her passion for education and ministry). Even at home, God encouraged me to bond with my brother, sisters, and mom (who were at home at that time) by simply picking fruits at our veranda!

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I then remembered what Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi said in one of his sermons: “Love is to seek others’ highest good, which often times require our sacrifice.” Once again, I’m learning that life isn’t about me and my comfort. It’s about loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength… even when I’m sick and weak; even when I don’t feel like loving; even when it means that I should love others too. I shouldn’t let anything hinder me from loving Him sacrificially because He deserves every beat of my heart and every drop of love within me. He deserves the best love I can ever give!

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Luke 10:27 says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

RECIPE: Shrimp Kebabs (with Cherry Tomatoes)

Ingredients

Shrimps

Cherry Tomatoes

Spices (salt, pepper, cumin)

Butter/Olive oil

Fresh Basil leaves

*Other vegetables/spices you can add: Onions, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, rosemary

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Steps:

SHRIMPS

  1. Rinse. Remove the head (set aside) and the shell of the body.
  2. De-vein the shrimps and place in a small bowl.
  3. In the small bowl, add a tablespoon (or two) of melted butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add diced fresh basil leaves.
  4. In another small bowl, squeeze the juice out of the shrimps heads and mix in a pinch of cumin.
  5. Combine the spiced shrimps and the mixture of shrimp juice/flavor and cumin.

DSC07041

TOMATOES

  1. Rinse the cherry tomatoes.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on the tomatoes. Mix

Push sticks through a cherry tomato and shrimp alternately. Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. Serve with basmati rice or toasted, sliced baguettes.

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Simple Sunday Snack: Cherry Tomatoes on Baguettes

Nothing beats fresh ingredients in home-cooked meals. It has always been my dream to own and manage a huge garden or an orchard where I could pick, eat, and cook various fruits, vegetables, and herbs anytime. In the future, God-willing, I’ll get to experience that. But for now, I am very much pleased with my baby plants in our veranda. By God’s grace, I harvested my first batch of red cherry tomatoes and made an easy, cheesy snack at home.

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While I was removing the tomatoes from the plant, I started reminiscing about its younger days. It was just a beautiful experience to see that one, tiny seed grow into a leafy and fruitful plant. When I was in gradeschool, I remember collecting fruits on the ground that fell from the trees and I was happy even in those simple moments. I guess I’ve always admired the beauty of seeing fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs grow in trees and plants.

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And now that God has given me the privilege of growing my own plants and vegetables, I am reminded even more of how amazing God is as our Creator. He is able to make seeds grow and bear fruit! The remarkable thing about it too is that even when I wasn’t able to regularly water and fertilize our plants at home, God still made a way for them to get their needs (e.g. through rain; my mom who sometimes watered the plants too).

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Seeing his grace in the growth of the plants encourages me to trust in His faithfulness. If He can easily provide for the plant’s needs, make it grow and bear fruit, how much more can He graciously work in the hearts and lives of His children?

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Philippians 1:6 says: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Thank You, Lord, for the simple joys of knowing you more through nature. :)

 

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Spices: Salt, Pepper, Dried herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, etc.)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Baguettes (I got mine from Le Coeur de France)
  • olive oil
  • Fresh Basil leaves

 

Steps:

1. Slice the tomatoes.

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2. Add a dash of salt and pepper and sprinkle some of the dried herbs. Drizzle olive oil on it and mix.

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3. Cook the spiced tomatoes in a small pan, until soft.

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4. Place the tomatoes on sliced baguettes and add shredded Mozzarella cheese.

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5. Toast them for 2-3 minutes.

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6. Sprinkle chopped fresh basil leaves on the baguettes.

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Mom’s fresh basil

7. Enjoy white it’s still hot, crunchy, and cheesy.

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I served it with Sbarro’s baked ziti with Meatball. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)