Planting advise for Black Cherry & Tommy Toes

gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)June 6, 2008

I've got some very healthy seedlings going this year. The seeds were rec'd from a swap and honestly, I didn't do any research on them until now! lol

I thought I would be able to plant them in a 1 or 5 gal bucket. The veggie forum suggested that I ask a few questions over here.

They said that theirs grow quite large. I ran out of room in my garden bed and am considering doing some hard work this weekend and create a new bed to plant them in.

My soil is compacted and hard. I've got more rocks than soil. My other beds are lasagna style and in an area that I've previously worked the soil. The new area will require my husband and a pick ax to do a "virgin dig".

How deep should I plan to break up the soil? I will add lasagna layers on top of the ground level but I don't have nearly enough to provide the needed thickness for planting.

I'll remove the rocks and dirt and fill the area surrounding the plant with a mix of soil (bought from the store) & compost.

The top of the bed will be completely "lasagna" topped and mulched.

How large to do these varieties get? Do I stake them, cage them or let them run free? Can I grow them side by side or should I keep a distance between the 2 kinds?

Thanks so much!! I'm hoping for a few tips before tomorrows digging! LC Grace

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albertar(z7 LINY)

Its possible you got the black cherry seeds from me in a large swap a few months back. I can tell you that black cherry got huge in my garden last year, over 5 foot tall and was loaded with tomatoes. In all probability you could grow one per 5 gallon bucket. As for the variety of Tommy Toes, that I haven't got a clue about, but I'm sure someone here will speak up on it. Wait til you taste those black cherry's, you are in for a real treat.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 8:33PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I have 4 Black Cherry going this year. All already topped 5 feet by a couple of inches and are just now ripening the first fruit cluster. I figure by end of July it will be in the neighborhood of 7-8 feet but I will just let them drape back down over the cages.

Got an idea for planting for you to consider. Depends on how many you want to plant. Instead of making a whole new bed - much of which would not be planted, just paths. How about getting 5 gallon buckets, cut the bottom out of them, pick-ax spots just a bit bigger around than the buckets and set the potting mix filled buckets on the dirt. That way the plants can make their own way down into the ground as needed. Drive a tall stake on each side of the bucket to stabilize them and the bucket, tied off to them, won't tip.

It isn't ideal but alot less work than making a whole new bed and better than trying to keep it all contained within the bucket itself.

Worth considering?


    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 9:11PM
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Your black cherry will get massive. I am in FL and planted a bit late for down here (mid april). My black cherry is now well over 8 feet and shows no signs of slowing down. I have a cluster of tomatoes on it that I will need a ladder to pick. I have had to give up on controlling it's growth and am now letting it grow back down the cage. I am scared to see what this thing will look like by the fall.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 12:12AM
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gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)

Excellent idea Dave!! I think I'll go outside and start planning. We're in a heatwave right now. I think I'll get things prepared but plant when temps are a bit back to normal in a few days. We went from 70's to 90's overnight.

I can't wait to try these tomatoes!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 12:25PM
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Black Cherry is huge. Tommy Toe I haven't grown, but I understand it is a very small determinant. Two very different types of plant!

Give the Black Cherry a lot of room on all sides and prune some of the early suckers to keep it from getting too large. It will turn into a big, ropy, octopus if you don't keep an eye on it. (A very TASTY octopus).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:38PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Tommy Toe is not a determinate but an indeterminate. From Tomato Growers Supply: Tommy Toe #5710 (30 seeds) $2.45

Round to slightly elongated-shaped cherry tomato is bright red and prolific with excellent flavor and plenty of juice. This variety practically grows itself, resisting most diseases and setting loads of fruit. Great for salads and can even be used for juice. Australian Heirloom. Indeterminate. 70 days.

It grows 7-8 feet tall.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 8:38PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Both are big plants. When I grew both the same year, Tommy Toe was even bigger and more prolific than Black Cherry. Both are wonderful -- my favorite two cherry tomatoes!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 8:44PM
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gardeningwithlcgrace(7 Delaware)

I planted them along the top of my stone wall coming up my driveway. I was planning on filling the bed with zinnia but the tomatoes took priority.

They will not have ideal "full sun" conditions but they've got a better chance on the stone wall than in a plastic cup!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:02AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

And they taste better than zinnias do too!! ;)


    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I like the 5 gal bucket idea for the best flexibility. Even given lots of space I could see myself always keeping many plants in 5 gal containers. I did put 2 inches of rock on the bottom with holes 1 inch from the on the side.
My favorite aspect of this is they can be started in a green house and moved outside as is with no transplant.
You may even able to go in ground somewhat and just use large holes which would allow you to pull the up and rotate the soil. If you are getting soil born disease, yank the container and put the soil in black plastic garbage bags and heat it up on the drive way during the summer months and rotate back into the containers with new compost.
If your native soil is that bad it will not help your plants any how.

I am so completely impressed by this mountain garden operation it has inspired me to do the same. It then simply occurred to me this year that I can start these in a portable green house.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 4:18PM
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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

All this talk about black cherry. . .it was the only one that I lost due to complete stupidity on my part. I now have to wait a whole year before I can attempt another seedling. . .

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I'm feeling ya on the more rocks than soil issue! I created this new quick bed on 5/13. No way is it pretty but will work for this year. I spent 3 hours with a pitchfork and on my hands and knees pulling out rocks. Then I worked in some bagged cow manure and made one long hill to plant in. I covered with black plastic to start warming the soil and kill any more potential sunflower and/or weed seedlings. Then on 5/17 I planted out and folded up the plastic and just laid it back down in between the plants. I kinda like this mound ID for the trenches that were created in the process for watering purposes:D

June 7th

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:15PM
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jbann23(6 RI)

Sorry mitanoff about your black cherry. Just what did you do to cause such dismay? I'm having a heck of a time getting them to respond to normal growing conditions myself. I think they'll behave eventually but they grow slowly and appear very delicate. They get leggy in the quest for light yet respond badly to hardening off. We've both heard how wonderful they are and it would be great if we could get a successful harvest; just to try them out.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:58PM
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I am growing chocolate cherry and it is amazing!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:24AM
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Black Cherry in back on the right, topping the bamboo poles:

Inside that jungle were lots of tomatoes:

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:33AM
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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

Well, if you saw my other post re. "the most pathetic tomato", my black cherry was one of those. I didn't harden off my seedlings properly and although most of the plants did eventually survive (Thank heavens for dismal days and lots of rain

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:44AM
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