Gardening Vegetables

Tiny Tomatoes!

Pale blue bowl of tiny tomatoes

By Niki Jabbour
Savvy Gardening

I was recently asked about my favorite small-fruited tomato varieties and as I began to list them off, I realized that most of them are All-America Selection winners! From Celano to Midnight Snack, Fantastico to Fire Fly, there are colors and flavors to suit every tomato lover. Plus, these delicious varieties are often paired with exceptional characteristics like disease resistance or early maturity.

While I love growing large-fruited slicing tomatoes in my garden, most mature weeks later than cherry, grape, and currant tomatoes. These small-fruited wonders start my season in mid-July and continue to produce until frost. What more could you ask for? 

There are different types of tiny tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are small on size, but big on flavor! The rounded fruits are found in a rainbow of colors like red, orange, yellow, white, green, burgundy, black, purple and pink with most offering a summery sweetness. Grape tomatoes are also sweet but have an oblong shape and firm texture. Currant tomatoes are truly tiny, often just a half-inch (1.25 cm) across. They’re wonderful sprinkled in salads or gobbled up while still in the garden

Growing tiny tomatoes from seed:

In most regions, tomatoes need to be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected spring frost. Sow seeds in pots filled with a high-quality potting mix and place them under grow lights or in a sunny window. Once the risk of frost has passed, harden off the seedlings and move them to the garden.

Planting tomatoes in garden beds and containers:

Giving your tomato plants a sunny site, good soil, and regular tending can mean a larger harvest for you!

·       Best site

For optimum production, plant tomatoes in a spot that receives at least eight to ten hours of direct sun each day. Many gardeners struggle to find a site with that much sun and this is where small-fruited tomatoes come in handy as they can still produce a respectable harvest when grown in just four to six hours of light.

·       Soil amendments

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and appreciate compost-enriched soil. I dig in several inches of compost or aged manure before planting and also add a dose of a slow-release organic tomato fertilizer.

·       Planting 

Tomato plants produce roots all along their stems and can therefore be planted deeply. This helps encourage a deep root system that is less prone to drought. When planting, place the seedling in the planting hole so that the bottom half is buried. Remove any leaves first.

·       Spacing

Spacing depends on the mature size of the selected variety and how you intend to support the plant. I grow my indeterminate tomatoes vertically on stakes, inserting the stake at planting time. This allows me to plant them closer than if they were unsupported. My staked tomato plants are placed 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart. Unsupported tomatoes are spaced three to four feet (90 to 120 cm) apart. Compact determinate varieties can be planted 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) apart. Read seed packets and plant labels carefully for specific spacing recommendations.

·       Staking

I use seven-foot-tall (2 m) wooden stakes to support my vining tomatoes, tying the fresh growth to the stake every week or two. For determinant varieties that grow less than three feet (90 cm) tall, you can use a sturdy tomato cage. Truly small-growing varieties like FantasticoTerenzo, and Lizzano don’t need support.

·       Growing in containers

Tomatoes grow great in containers, especially compact, determinant varieties like Terenzo and Fantastico. That said, any tomato variety—even tall-growing indeterminate ones—can be planted in pots if the containers are large enough. I fill my tomato containers with a mixture of a high-quality potting mix and compost. Water consistently and fertilize regularly.

The Best Tiny Tomatoes:

Celano

Celano grape tomato with red fruits

Celano is perfect for small-space or container gardeners who want a productive, early, and delicious grape variety. Expect long chains of tomatoes produced on 3 1/2 foot (105 cm) tall late blight resistant plants.

Fantastico

Fantastico tomato with many small red fruits

This is a wonderful choice for pots or hanging baskets, only growing about a foot (30 cm) tall. The early-maturing plants produce a heavy crop of crack-resistant red grape tomatoes. It is late-blight resistant.

Midnight Snack

Midnight Snack with red-purple round fruits.

An indigo-type cherry tomato, Midnight Snack has unique glossy red-purple fruits perfect for snacking. The plants are indeterminate and should be staked or caged.

Red Torch

Red Torch tomato with grape type fruits red striped yellow.

Red Torch, a striped oblong fruit about 1.5 ″ (3.75 cm) long, starts producing earlier in the season than most. Expect 100 plus of these all season long. Add them to your salad for taste and color.

Candyland Red

Candyland Red tomato with tiny red fruits.

The only AAS award-winning currant-type tomato. This plant has a nice tidy habit with the fruit forming more on the outside of the plant making them easier to harvest.

Fire Fly

Fire Fly tomato with butter yellow round fruits.

Fire Fly is a small cherry variety with butter yellow tomatoes less than one inch across. The tall plants are generous in their harvest so expect to enjoy a bumper crop of tiny tomatoes for months!

Patio Choice Yellow

Masses of yellow tomates on a small plant of Patio Choice Yellow

I like to plant Patio Choice Yellow at the sides of my raised beds to cascade over the edges, but it’s also great in containers. Expect at least a hundred fruits per plant! Each bright yellow tomato is a sweet summer treat.

Valentine

Valentie grape tomato with red fruits.

If you love grape tomatoes, be sure to add Valentine to your wish list. This early maturing variety yields a heavy crop of bright red grape tomatoes beginning just 55 days from transplanting. The fruits are extremely sweet and resistant to cracking. Expect the harvest to continue for months!

This post, including the photos, is provided as an education/inspirational service of All-America Selections.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

6 comments on “Tiny Tomatoes!

  1. Pingback: Tiny Tomatoes! — Laidback Gardener – Ninnys Nest

  2. I’m amazed that you make no mention of a recently new addition only in the last several years that I’m aware into supermarkets: Compari Tomato. This isn’t really a “tiny” tomato, but more medium to small medium. They all have amazing taste, even when bought in the main stream supermarkets. Furthermore, as I understand it, it is a pure strain, or Heirloom, meaning you can grow it from seed, and seeds are available. We grow it ourselves from seed, then collect the seed for our own garden and are pleased. Can you tell us more about this tomato?

    The thing I want to emphasize is how flavorful they are. More people should be growing this.

    • Actually, as you may have noticed, the article was supplied by All America Selections and not written by myself. Otherwise, I would have included a choices of my own!

      The Campari tomato is not a tomato cultivar, but a category of tomato: one designed to be sold as a “tomato on the vine” and can come in different colors, flavors, etc. One of the cultivars is ‘Mountain Magic’. It’s of recent origin, so certainly not an heirloom tomato, but some cultivars might well be pure strains.

  3. Some of these are too much work to pick, like harvesting gooseberries!

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