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

Thursday Tune #25: Heart Like You

When I was in gradeschool, an elderly man would drop by our house in Kapitolyo almost every week with a few baskets or boxes. He was one of the faithful vendors who sold fresh fruits to us and to our neighbors. It was during those times that I learned how to tell if a ripe mango was sweet (just by smelling its top part). Also, at an early age, I was fascinated by how my mom bargained when she bought fruits from the man and how the man used his handy and unique weighing scale to measure them.

photo 1 (7) - Copy

After a few years, our family needed to transfer to a different house (and neighborhood) which was mainly the reason why we weren’t able to see the vendor anymore. Fast forward to end of July 2014 — my younger brother was buying bread from one of our favorite bakeries in Kapitolyo and I was waiting in the car when I noticed a very familiar face. It was raining at that time, so I couldn’t clearly recognize his face. But, when I saw him drag a box of fruits along the sidewalk, somehow I knew that it was the same man who sold mangoes to us when I was still a kid. Because it was raining, he sat down outside a salon and started to segregate the fruits in his box.

DSC00148 - Copy

A few minutes later, my brother went back to the car and I told him about it. He squinted his eyes, checked the old man’s things from a far, and he confirmed to me that it really was him! We couldn’t believe it! He was still selling fruits in Kapitolyo – our hometown! Haha.

DSC00149 - Copy

I opened the window of the car and called the old man. I briefly shared to him that I remembered who he was since we grew up seeing him sell his fruits in our village. Eventually, I bought a kilo of the mangosteen from him and we gave him some of the freshly baked bread we got from the nearby bakery.

DSC00154 - Copy

It was a warm experience for me that rainy day when I saw him again. I very much appreciated how he still continues to be responsible and hardworking in his job. But, what blessed me more was seeing how this elderly man showed integrity even in the smallest things. Before we got to talk to the man, I already noticed him segregating the mangosteen that he had while he was waiting for the rain to stop. Without anyone telling him to do so or without him knowing that someone was watching him, he removed those that were rock-hard/dry and made sure to sell only the good ones to his customers that day.

DSC00160 - Copy

This observation was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to share our bread with him that day. It was a blessing to see a Christ-like heart out on the street. Also, he was wearing a shirt with these words printed on the back: “Mahal tayo ni Hesus.” Or in English: “Jesus loves us.” — So cool!

Untitled

The elderly man reminded me of a song I’ve been listening to recently. It’s called “Heart Like You” by Love and the Outcome. I hope that this tune will be an encouragement to you too. :)

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” [Philippians 4:8]

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

THURSDAY TUNE #24: Only A Mountain by Jason Castro

“Dream big. Put God before you. You never know what His plans are. In my story, I had these dreams of music, dreams God put in my heart. But when I became ‘above’ God, my life was a mess. And when I put God at the front, not knowing where I was going, feeling like I had just given up my dreams, God brought them back bigger than I could have ever imagined.”

This was the last statement of Jason Castro in the video below. He shared his testimony about God’s goodness in his life and how God graciously changed his heart and lifestyle for His glory.

I watched this video a few minutes before midnight last night and I was reminded of Matthew 6:33 where it says: ” But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

It was encouraging to hear how Jason Castro still chose to surrender, seek and obey God in the midst of struggles. At that time, maybe he didn’t know why God was allowing him to go through such things, but, God is using his example and story to make Him known throughout the world.

Castro_PR
Taken from Google Images

In Jason Castro’s song, “Only A Mountain”, I very much appreciate how he encourages others to have faith in God and acknowledge His presence even as we go through difficult moments in life.

“There’s no problem too big for God to tackle. You just gotta have faith in Him.” -Jason Castro

Matthew 17:20 says: “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. “

 

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

Simple Sunday Snack: Pineapple Ice Cream

My Sunday afternoons are usually spent at home with my siblings and our two dogs. Most of the time, we would hang out in the living room, eat, and watch movies together. Of course, to make the experience more pleasant, our Sunday routine always included using the air conditioner for an hour or two. However, since the start of summer, turning it on for an hour wasn’t enough anymore. We would eventually use it for four or five hours straight just to keep us cool in this extremely hot weather.

DSC09304 - Copy

 

DSC09316 - Copy

Besides enjoying the air conditioners, another thing that I like about summer is that we get to appreciate cool and refreshing drinks and desserts more during this season. I usually am satisfied with a glass of cold water or homemade fruit shakes. But today, I decided to use my eldest sister’s anniversary gift for our parents: Say hello to the lovely YONANAS machine.

DSC09384 - Copy

DSC09325 - Copy

DSC09332 - Copy

I froze pineapples yesterday and my younger brother helped me prepare the ice cream using the Yonanas machine. It was amazing!! The pineapples from Tagaytay were also affordable (Php 7.00 each) and were naturally very sweet, so the dessert was really delightful!

DSC09337 - Copy

DSC09342 - Copy

DSC09347 - Copy

I find this kitchen tool very interesting because it turns frozen fruit into ‘ice cream’ instantly! We don’t need to add milk, sugar, or any artificial flavors and colors to it — just pure, awesome fruits made by God.

DSC09394 - Copy

DSC09357 - Copy

It reminded me of how God’s pure and perfect love is more than enough for us. In the same way, there’s no need for us to mix it up with other temporary pleasures and treasures just to try to satisfy the cravings of our hearts. God already gave us the best kind of love through His son, Jesus, when he died on the cross and rose again so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

DSC09396 - Copy

“Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” –Psalm 63:3

DSC09398 - Copy
It’s really refreshing to be reminded of God’s love on a hot summer day while enjoying a bowl of pineapple ice cream. Thank You, Lord, for this simple treat! :)

DSC09400 - Copy

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)