Cherry Tomatoes: The Easiest Plant You'll Ever Grow

Growing cherry tomatoes is the best way for newbies to ease into gardening.

By Jean Nick

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With just a pot and some good soil, you could be harvesting cherry tomatoes until Fall.Love the idea of growing your own food, but daunted by a brown thumb? Grab a pot and a cherry tomato seedling, and you'll never again wonder how easy it is to garden. Cherry tomato plants are great because, even if you grow just one plant, it will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits.

You'll Need:

  • 1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer's market or nursery)

  • 1 tomato cage, the largest size your retailer carries

  • 1 20-quart bag of organic potting mix; we like Organic Mechanics
  • 1 bottle or bag of organic tomato food; try Terracycle's Tomato Plant Food (a general-purpose organic will do if you can't find tomato food)

  • 1 5-gallon plastic food bucket
     

I'm suggesting using plastic buckets because they are cheap (I get them for a buck apiece at a local doughnut shop) and sturdy. There are lots of different planters and pots and even ready-made self-watering models available at you local garden supplier, even plastic-free models. Just choose one that holds about 5 gallons; a round 5-gallon flower pot is about 12 inches tall and 12 inches across at the top.

No space, but still want to give cherry tomatoes a try? Plant your cherry tomatoes in the Nickel Pincher's $1 Upside-Down Tomato Planter (made from a reusable grocery bag).

For the uninitiated, a tomato cage is just what you guess: wire mesh you place around your tomato plant to support it as it grows. Depending on the variety, cherry tomatoes can grow as tall as 10 feet. Just avoid any that look as though they're covered in plastic. That's usually vinyl, a toxic plastic that can expose your plants to lead and other undesirable substances.

The How-To:
1. Drill 1/4- to 1/2-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edge, plus another few in the center bottom so excess water can drain. If you've bought a planter with drainage holes already, you can skip this step.

2. Pick a location. For best fruiting, you need a location where the plant will get at least 8 hours of direct sun each day (the roots can be in the shade). You can skip the tomato cage—and save a little cash—if you have a spot close to a balcony or railing, which you can use to support the tomato vines.

3. If you do go with a cage, insert the pointy end into the planter, and then fill the planter with potting mix.

4. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.

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