Gardening Vegetables

A Tomato for Valentine’s Day

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The unusual shape of ‘Sweet Valentine’ fruits is bound to attract attention! Source: www.hpsseed.com

A heart-shaped tomato? That’s what you get with Solanum lycopersicum ‘Sweet Valentine’! The bright red cherry tomatoes have a pointed tip and, if you use a little imagination, look very much like little hearts. And they’re delicious too, with the typical sweet taste of cherry tomatoes.

Classed as the world’s first ornamental tomato, ‘Sweet Valentine’ is a very compact plant, only 12 to 14 inches (30 to 40 cm) in height and diameter, and was developed as a patio plant, one designed to grow in a pot. Although planned for outdoor patio use, you could grow it indoors too, but it would then need to be near the sunniest window you have available.

‘Sweet Valentine’ is a determinate tomato with dark green leaves and short, well-branched stems that need no staking: just let them dangle daintily around the pot. It makes an excellent hanging plant too!

Sow ‘Sweet Valentine’ indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before you intend to put it outdoors, just like any other tomato. Acclimatize it to outdoor conditions once the nights remain reliably above 54˚ F (12 ° C). As with any container-grown tomato, it will need full sun or only very light shade, regular but gentle fertilization and thorough watering whenever the soil starts to dry out.

The plant will start to bloom soon after it is placed outdoors and the first fruits will be ready for harvest about 60 days later.

Since ‘Sweet Valentine’ is an F1 hybrid, any seeds you harvest will not be true to the type.

A Valentine’s Day Gift?

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Soon we may be saying Happy Valentine’s Day with tomatoes! Source: Hem-Genetics

You probably won’t find this plant on sale this year (2018) on Valentine’s Day, as it’s only just been introduced by the Dutch firm HemGenetics, but I’m assuming you will in the future. A heart-shaped Valentine’s Day tomato in a patio pot is just too good an idea not to try out! Any nursery with a heated greenhouse and supplementary lighting ought to be able to produce nice, compact ‘Sweet Valentine’ tomato plants full of heart-shaped fruit just in time for the occasion and I think consumers will love the concept. I know my wife would be thrilled if I brought her a cute tomato plant with heart-shaped fruits for Valentine’s Day!

Of course, ‘Sweet Valentine’ won’t produce fruits endlessly, and even less so under indoor conditions. It is, after all, a determinate tomato, one genetically programed to produce nearly its entire crop at once. But then, most gift plants—gerberas, chrysanthemums, cinerarias, calceoloarias, etc.—are short-lived, so this is just one more.

Grow Your Own Hearts

The best way of making sure you’ll be able to grow ‘Sweet Valentine’ plants this year is to start your own from seed. Here are two seed companies that offer them:

Totally Tomatoes

W.H. Perron

Happy Valentine’s Day!20180214A SweetValentineHybridTomato, www.hpsseed.com

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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