With their dusky pink skins and multicolor inside, ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes are dazzling on the vine and within the kitchen. This distinctive heirloom selection has a full-bodied taste and dense, luscious texture, good for slicing. That is cause sufficient to plant and develop ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes!
The big globe-shaped fruits are nearly as meaty as a ‘Beefsteak’ and have equally small seed cavities, making for an exceptionally wealthy culinary expertise. Plus, the stout vines develop quickly!
Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds which were handed down for hundreds of years. Whereas ‘Cherokee Purple’ crops get pleasure from comparable situations to your favourite backyard hybrids, they’ve a number of distinctive necessities you’ll wish to meet to maximise your yields. Let’s dig into the whole lot it’s good to find out about rising this flavorful tomato!
Solanum lycopersicum ‘Cherokee Purple’ Plant Overview
Historical past and Cultivation
Whereas the ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomato carries the title of the Cherokee tribal individuals and tales declare that they originated with that tribe, there has by no means been conclusive proof of their tribal origins – solely a narrative handed alongside to the person who spearheaded their recognition.
Heirloom tomato specialist Craig LeHoullier acquired a packet of seeds of this almost-black tomato within the mail. The sender said the seeds had initially come from a tribal member. Whereas the tribal origin was by no means confirmed, LeHoullier selected to maintain the title to honor the assertion made by its originator.
The wealthy taste revealed in check trials proved that this tomato was worthy of additional improvement. In 1993, the Southern Publicity Seed Trade was the primary seed firm to supply it as a restricted version seed packet. Satirically, the proprietor of SESE was quoted saying the tomato “tasted wonderful, however was form of ugly – individuals could not prefer it.” However the plant took the gardening world by storm.
Its uniquely brown, inexperienced, burgundy, and rose tones have captivated gardeners for many years since, warranting large seed-saving efforts to keep up the heirloom taste. It’s extraordinarily fashionable and, no matter its origins, its taste makes it price rising 12 months after 12 months!
Lately, Craig LeHoullier has expressed remorse for naming the tomato after the tribe with out confirming its origination. In 2022, he and different seed growers mentioned the seed naming course of on the Natural Seed Alliance’s annual seed convention, as many seeds carry tribal names whether or not or not they really originated with these tribal teams.
Is ‘Cherokee Purple’ An Heirloom Tomato?
This plant is an heirloom, that means its seeds have been saved and handed down by way of generations. After a few years of normal open-pollination in cultivation, ‘Cherokee Purple’ seeds keep true to kind when grown. This implies gathering seeds from the fruits and replanting them subsequent 12 months will yield the identical scrumptious fruits. The genetics of this selection have remained robust by way of a whole bunch of years of cultivation and sale.
This wealthy, old-time tomato taste and attention-grabbing ribbed form set it aside from different heirlooms. The additional-large-sized fruits are nearly as huge as a ‘Beefsteak,’ starting from 3-5 inches in diameter.
What’s ‘Cherokee Purple’ Tomato Greatest For?
Identified for his or her wealthy, traditional tomato taste and darkish coloration, ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes are best for recent consuming. The treasured, award-winning tomato has a stability of sweetness and slight smokiness.
The vine-ripened fruits have dusky rose-blushed pores and skin with inexperienced, purple, or brown streaking on the inside. The seed cavities are small and don’t have the watery texture of different heirlooms, making them good for a sandwich or burger with out the chance of soggy bread. They’re scrumptious in salads, caprese, and recent salsas or sliced with a sprinkling of salt on high.
Are ‘Cherokee Purple’ Tomatoes Laborious to Develop?
‘Cherokee Purple’ is right for newbie tomato growers as a result of the stout vines are simple to keep up and thrive with out a lot fuss. If the plant has full daylight and loads of heat climate (over 60°F), these tomatoes will ripen to their darkish, luscious coloration in lower than three months! This old school heirloom is tailored to intensely scorching summers of the Southeast and tolerates humidity pretty properly.
You possibly can develop this treasured tomato from seed or a pre-purchased seedling. Probably the most important think about a tomato’s early development is mild. Keep away from leggy tomato begins by guaranteeing 6-8 hours of daylight each day.
‘Cherokee Purple’ tomato seeds are extensively obtainable and straightforward to plant. It’s greatest to begin them indoors as a result of spring climate is unpredictable within the backyard.
About 5-6 weeks earlier than transplanting, put together 6-packs, cell trays, or 4-inch pots. Fill them with a high quality, well-drained seed starter combine. Keep away from compacting the soil too firmly.
Sow 1-2 seeds ¼” deep in every cell and frivolously cowl. Seeds ought to solely be sown at a depth twice their largest dimension. Since tomato seeds are comparatively flat and spherical, they wind up very near the soil floor. Don’t bury them too deeply.
Totally water within the seeds and hold them persistently moist however by no means soggy. Use a fan-nozzle hose or huge watering can to distribute the water throughout the floor with out dislodging the seeds.
Use a soil thermometer probe to guarantee the combo stays 75-85°F. For the very best germination, add a seed heating mat beneath the trays.
‘Cherokee Purple’ germinates inside 5-10 days. Develop the seedlings at a steady 60-75°F ambient temperature. When crops have their first set of true leaves, skinny to 1 seedling per cell. Fertilize with a diluted fish emulsion to encourage fast institution.
If you happen to don’t have a south-facing window or greenhouse, you’ll most likely have to develop lights to make sure vigorous, wholesome crops. Droop your develop lights near the trays initially, or raise the trays till they’re 6-8” beneath the sunshine.
Because the tomatoes develop, slowly carry the sunshine away from them. If they appear spindly or like they’re “reaching” upwards (lengthy areas of stem between new leaves), the sunshine is simply too distant.
Don’t Begin Too Quickly!
Watch out to not begin your tomatoes too quickly. Rootbound, leggy, or flowering transplants have issue adjusting within the backyard. You could miss out on early manufacturing if the crops bear a shock interval.
‘Cherokee Purple’ grows surprisingly quick, and also you don’t need a bunch of overgrown seedlings ready by the windowsill for the climate to heat. If you happen to plan to plant 1-2 weeks after your final frost date, sow the seeds no prior to three weeks earlier than the final frost date. For many temperate gardeners, this window is round February or March within the south and April or Might within the north.
If beginning seeds indoors appears like an excessive amount of hassle, you’ll be able to normally discover ‘Cherokee Purple’ crops at most nurseries or backyard shops. Buying tomato begins saves you the difficulty of germination and indoor rising, however you continue to should harden off the crops (defined beneath) to forestall transplant shock.
When selecting a tomato begin, pay cautious consideration to:
- Leaf Shade: The foliage needs to be vibrant inexperienced and freed from yellowing or brown spots.
- Indicators of Illness: If the plant has any halo spots, wilting, or shriveled useless leaves, go away it on the backyard retailer!
- Root Binding: Take away the seedling from its pot and examine to make sure the roots aren’t tangled or spiraling across the container.
- Peak: A cheerful tomato seedling ought to have a top proportionate to its container. Leggy, spindly stems point out that the younger plant didn’t have sufficient mild.
- Flowers or Fruit: Opposite to fashionable perception, you wish to keep away from shopping for a tomato seedling that’s already flowering or fruiting. This can be a signal of stress and will stunt early development after transplanting.
- Pests: Verify the undersides of leaves to make sure there are not any aphids or hornworms which may get imported into your backyard.
Buy your seedlings as near your final frost date as potential. Usually, late-season tomato seedlings are rootbound, leggy, and sickly from being in a pot for too lengthy.
As soon as nighttime temperatures are persistently above 45°F, you’ll be able to safely plant tomatoes within the backyard. That is normally 1-3 weeks after your final spring frost date.
In case your area tends to have unpredictable springs, it’s greatest to cowl tomato seedlings with row material or a chilly body to guard them through the preliminary few weeks of multinational.
One in all many gardeners’ largest errors with tomatoes is forgetting to harden them off. This acclimatization interval is essential for serving to your tomato seedlings alter to the harshness of the outside.
You wouldn’t simply throw a child fowl from the nest to fend for itself! The plant should discover ways to adapt to colder nights, much less water, harsher daylight, and fewer constant situations.
Whether or not you grew tomatoes from seeds or bought begins at a nursery, observe these steps to make sure the crops are prepared for the backyard:
- Take away heating mats and barely reduce on watering with out stressing the child crops.
- Place seedlings open air in a protected space like a patio or porch.
- For the primary few nights, you’ll be able to cowl them with row material and monitor temperatures.
- After 3-4 nights, transfer the seedlings nearer to the backyard with none safety.
- They need to be able to transplant after every week outdoors of their pots.
Learn how to Transplant
Earlier than transplanting, resolve what tomato trellis you’d like to make use of. These heirlooms can’t rise up on their very own, and also you most likely don’t need soiled tomatoes rising on the bottom.
The best trellis is a traditional tomato cage, however the highest-yielding trellises encourage the plant to develop from one or two “chief vines,” like a T-post or A-frame trellis.
Subsequent, be certain your hardened-off seedlings are completely watered. A pleasant drench earlier than planting ensures the soil within the root ball is properly clumped collectively.
Put together a weed-free mattress with very well-drained loamy soil. Mix in any compost or all-purpose granular fertilizer prematurely. Use a mini trowel or Hori Hori knife to dig a gap about two occasions as deep and huge because the seedling’s root ball.
Therapeutic massage the foundation zone as you grasp the plant from its base and pull it out of the container. Place the tomato within the gap so the decrease elements of the stem are fully buried. Like all tomatoes, this heirloom can root all alongside its stem. You possibly can take away decrease leaves and plant deeper for leggier begins to encourage sturdy, bushy development.
Gently backfill the opening and keep away from urgent down an excessive amount of on the soil. Give the transplants a hearty drink. A diluted kelp answer may also help alleviate transplant shock and promote sooner root institution.
‘Cherokee Purple’ is an indeterminate tomato selection, that means it grows rambling vines that produce tomatoes till the primary frost. Luckily, this heirloom grows shorter vines that don’t require as a lot pruning as different indeterminates.
Nonetheless, ample spacing is significant for stopping illness and maximizing your yields. Develop crops 24-36” aside with 24-36” between rows.
If you’re trellising with a cattle panel or T-post, you’ll be able to attempt tighter spacing, like 18-20”. If utilizing a tomato cage, I’d advocate the usual 24” spacing so there’s loads of airflow between crops.
Learn how to Develop
As one of many easiest-to-grow heirlooms, ‘Cherokee Purple’ is a resilient plant that received’t fuss. So long as you present a sturdy trellis, heat temperatures, and constant water, you’ll be delighted by how abundantly these tomatoes yield.
Tomatoes are native to Central and South America and developed underneath vibrant, scorching sunshine. In spite of everything, the genus title Solanum accommodates the Latin root sol, that means “solar.”
They want not less than 6 to eight hours or extra of full solar each day. Keep away from planting in beds that obtain partial shade from close by bushes or buildings. A south-facing backyard orientation is greatest.
Whereas ‘Cherokee Purple’ has some drought tolerance, constant moisture grows the very best tomatoes. Rare or sporadic watering could cause blossom finish rot, which is unpleasant and gross.
The roots of those heirlooms develop fairly deep, particularly in free, loamy soil. They will subsist on 1-2 inches of water per week. Even moisture is essential as soon as the crops begin flowering and fruiting. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are greatest as a result of they ship water on to the plant’s root zone.
Keep away from overhead watering with sprinklers, resulting in blight, mildew, and different fungal points. Mulching your tomato beds with shredded straw or leaf mulch may also help retain moisture and hold the soil cooler in ultra-hot climates.
Like all tomatoes, these crops love wealthy, loamy, well-drained soil. The upper the natural matter, the higher. Heap on the compost, aged manure, and mulch to create the proper setting to your heirlooms.
They tolerate barely acidic soil with a pH of round 6.0 to six.8. Peat moss or coco coir can enhance the pH and drainage in alkaline soils.
Earlier than transplanting, I wish to broad-fork my backyard beds to loosen the decrease layers of soil completely. Then, I add 1-2 inches of compost and some shovel-loads of vermicast to complement the mattress. Your heirloom tomato mattress deserves probably the most soil preparation effort as a result of crops yield considerably higher with the loamiest soil potential.
Local weather and Temperature
Tomatoes are cold-tender crops that undergo beneath 55°F. They don’t sometimes set fruit and ripen till temperatures are persistently 65°F. Whereas they’ll deal with temperatures beneath 35°F, they don’t tolerate frost. Chilly harm could seem as darkening leaves and stems, wilting, yellowing, or flower drop (an actual bummer to your tomato crop).
You possibly can harvest ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes in most climates all through late spring and peak summer time. In scorching southern climates, present mild afternoon shade or plant later within the fall when temperatures are barely cooler. Triple-digit temperatures could cause flower drop and poor fruit set. Mulching and shade fabric are useful in excessive warmth.
In comparison with different heirlooms, this selection is especially adept at dealing with humidity. Nonetheless, extremely humid situations mixed with shut spacing or poor airflow create a recipe for blight catastrophe.
In case your area will get numerous rainfall in the summertime, widen your tomato spacing and attempt to hold the foliage as dry as potential. Some growers erect mini greenhouses or clear plastic covers to maintain the rain off.
Cranking out these large, juicy fruits requires numerous power. These tomatoes are medium to heavy feeders and revel in a number of rounds of fertilizer all through the season. Within the early levels of development, a granular all-purpose fertilizer mix is superb to combine within the soil throughout planting.
Search for a balanced fertilizer like Espoma Backyard-Tone to make sure you don’t overdo the nitrogen. An excessive amount of nitrogen could cause extreme foliage development on the expense of the coveted fruits.
When the crops start to flower, swap to the next phosphorus fertilizer like seaweed or bone meal to arrange for fruiting. Whereas it’s very uncommon in residential soils, some backyard soils could lack adequate calcium, so a complement of calcium carbonate within the type of powdered eggshells or backyard lime will be useful. Nonetheless, most soil shouldn’t be poor in calcium, and most high quality natural fertilizers embody the calcium wanted to your crops.
If you happen to don’t wish to over-complicate issues, I counsel including 1-2 inches of high quality compost and the Backyard-Tone fertilizer at planting. This needs to be a lot to gas your purple heirlooms all through the season.
Pruning shouldn’t be important, however it’s useful. Luckily, these heirlooms don’t ship out as many suckers (aspect shoots) as hybrid varieties. Nonetheless, the vines profit from weekly pruning to sign them to channel their power into extra fruit manufacturing.
Suckers are aptly named as a result of they “suck” the power away from the ache plant. In different phrases, they’re the tomato’s try to supply extra vines than fruit.
Use sharp, sanitized pruners to take away suckers on the “elbows” the place every stem connects with the central vine. Relying in your trellis system, you could wish to prune every plant so it solely has one or two “chief” vines and take away the remainder.
When the information of vines are younger, they’re pliable sufficient to maneuver them the place you need them to go simply. Use twine or plastic tomato trellis clips to weave them upward.
If you happen to trellis your crops slightly bit each week, they simply develop into “educated” to develop up the trellis. Nonetheless, for those who wait till the stems are inflexible and massive, it may be difficult to trellis them with out snapping or bending the vines.
How Inform When ‘Cherokee Purple’ Tomatoes Are Able to Choose
Heirloom tomatoes fluctuate in coloration and measurement, so choosing them requires a particular eye for hue. The fruit is shut to reap when the pale pink pores and skin begins blushing or turning extra burgundy.
The darkish purple or nearly black fruits will stand out from their unripened neighbors. The leaves on the highest of the tomato ought to nonetheless seem inexperienced. At all times let your ‘Cherokee Purples’ ripen on the vine for the very best taste.
Tomato companion crops can dramatically scale back pest strain, enhance yields, and maximize area in a small backyard. Companion planting is an historic method with actual science-backed advantages that make your backyard ecosystem extra resilient and scale back your reliance on pesticides or fertilizers.
As probably the most well-researched companion crops, marigolds are recognized to forestall early blight and suppress root-knot nematodes within the soil. Research present that intercropping with marigolds can enhance yields by as much as 50%!
Marigolds are additionally the proper companion for ‘Cherokee Purple’ as a result of their development behavior is complimentary. The French marigolds keep stout and near the bottom because the tomatoes vine upward.
They’re simple to intersperse amongst tomato rows or within the 4 corners of a raised mattress. The colourful, aromatic flowers appeal to useful predatory bugs and repel fruit borers.
The perfect pairs within the kitchen typically make nice pairs within the backyard. Basil has a stout, bushy form that matches completely within the decrease cover of a tomato mattress.
The aromatic natural leaves repel aphids and flea beetles, and the flowers appeal to bees to help in pollination. Ensure that your basil crops are adequately spaced (not less than 8-10”) from the bottom of the tomatoes.
Benefit from the shadows solid by a tomato cover by interplanting with lettuce. Summer time lettuce will be difficult as a result of the recent, sunny days can set off bolting. Nonetheless, bolt-resistant varieties can produce scrumptious burger-worthy toppings all season lengthy for those who present dappled shade.
Transplant lettuce seedlings concurrently tomatoes. Present not less than 8-12” from the bottom of the crops and prune away decrease tomato leaves in order that they don’t rub up towards the lettuce. You possibly can normally get away with two lettuce successions all through the lifespan of a tomato crop.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and beans are leguminous crops that repair nitrogen within the soil. Bush beans are perfect for companion planting as a result of they received’t compete for trellis area. Additionally they make use of that unoccupied floor beneath tomato vines.
Like the opposite companion plant species, you’ll wish to be certain you’ve pruned away the decrease tomato leaves in order that they don’t overburden the bean crops. Present not less than 12-18” of area between crops.
Pests and Illnesses
‘Cherokee Purple’ is a tremendous resilient heirloom, however shouldn’t be invincible. It may well nonetheless fall sufferer to all of the frequent pests and pathogens until you’re taking steps to forestall and handle them.
Probably the most voracious tomato pest is the hornworm. This caterpillar is the larval stage of the hawk moth. If you happen to’re not checking your crops commonly, these fats caterpillars can defoliate a complete plant in in the future.
They’re tremendous camouflaged, so for those who discover stripped leaves, you could have to shake the plant to seek out the place the hornworm is hiding. They normally “hiss” to provide themselves away.
Hand-picking is the commonest removing technique. You may also use neem oil, Bt, or diatomaceous earth. Interplanting with marigolds, white alyssum, or close by yarrow could appeal to parasitic wasps that parasitize the voracious caterpillars.
These sap-sucking pests are unlikely to severely hurt your ‘Cherokee Purple’ crops, however they’re nonetheless a nuisance that reduces development. Sadly, aphids are additionally a vector for a lot of illnesses, together with mosaic viruses.
Companion planting is one of the simplest ways to forestall them. If an infestation happens, use a heavy spray of water to blast them from the undersides of the leaves. Then, apply diluted neem oil or horticultural oil to maintain the aphids away. An insecticidal cleaning soap can also be efficient towards most aphid species.
These tiny leaping beetles don’t solely assault brassicas! They will go away behind hundreds of little shotgun holes in your tomato leaves, inflicting them to be extra susceptible to early blight illness.
The greatest prevention is row cowl within the early season whereas crops are nonetheless small. If they’re nonetheless round after that, you’ll be able to mud your crops in diatomaceous earth or talcum powder to discourage and dehydrate them.
We aren’t the one ones who love scrumptious heirloom fruits. If you happen to discover chunks of tomatoes lacking, you most likely have a hungry rabbit, vole, rat, or mouse attempting to share within the feast.
The best prevention is pruning to make sure the fruit is ready greater on the vines. If the leaves are attacked, you’ll be able to use a critter cage whereas the crops are younger. Coyote urine or a backyard cat may also help repel rodents to forestall future points. You must also clear up any fallen fruits which will appeal to undesirable guests.
This frequent tomato illness is attributable to an aggressive fungus that overwinters in tomato plant particles. Early blight is greatest prevented by sanitation. By no means go away trimmings or outdated crops within the backyard. Take away them to the trash, burn pile, or compost pile (if not contaminated).
The yellow and brown bullseye marks of this illness make it very noticeable. It may well additionally unfold from potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Sadly, you’ll have to take away contaminated crops to forestall additional unfold. Deal with remaining crops with an software of fungicide as a preventative.
One other dismal incurable tomato illness, this blight assaults much more rapidly than early blight. It happens later within the season when the climate is moist and heat.
Brown lesions and fuzzy undergrowth on the leaves are the important thing signs. If you happen to see them, take away the plant instantly and cross your fingers it received’t unfold to the remainder of your heirlooms.
Blossom Finish Rot
Heirlooms with rotten “butts” are a serious bummer. You labored so onerous to develop these tomatoes; now they appear to rot on the vine! Luckily, this difficulty shouldn’t be a illness however a physiological ailment. On this circumstance, the crops can’t uptake the calcium of their soil; this may be attributable to rare watering, soil nutrient imbalances, and in very uncommon circumstances, a calcium deficiency within the soil.
Be sure that your tomato crops have common moisture slightly than lengthy intervals of drought adopted by heavy watering. Moderation is essential! Avoiding feast-or-famine watering typically “cures” blossom finish rot; your crops want persistently damp soil to soak up all of the soil’s vitamins.
An annual soil check will even determine in case your soil vitamins are off-kilter. Making use of extra calcium is just essential if you recognize your soil is low in calcium; it takes so lengthy for calcium to develop into plant-available that powdered eggshell or backyard lime could not restore the problem throughout your plant’s lifespan.
Tobacco Mosaic Virus
This viral illness causes sickly, curled leaves with inexperienced mosaic patterns. The distortion on the crops is normally fairly noticeable.
It’s typically unfold by pests, significantly sucking pests like aphids that pierce foliage. There isn’t a remedy, so it’s essential to take away contaminated crops ASAP to forestall the virus’ unfold.
Mosaic viruses are a large class; different types, like tomato mosaic virus, could also be indistinguishable from tobacco mosaic in how they distort crops. The perfect follow right here is to maintain crops pest-free as a lot as potential to cut back their threat from insect-carried viral illnesses.
Plant Makes use of
Take pleasure in ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes in any recipe. They particularly shine when sliced thickly on sandwiches and burgers. Their wealthy, dense texture isn’t too watery or comfortable.
On the identical time, their uniquely candy, savory, barely acidic, and subtly smoky taste enhances nearly any meal. For the complete taste expertise, slice up a hearty fruit and sprinkle salt on high.
Rising a ‘Cherokee Purple’ plant is just like different tomato varieties and infrequently much more simple. So long as they get loads of sunshine, wealthy soil, and common water, these vines yield dozens of kilos of fruit per season. At all times let your fruits ripen on the vine and harvest them after they seem darkish burgundy or purple.