Native Florida Wild Everglades Tomato

"Tomatoes do not grow in the summer in zone 10." The normal South Florida season is to plant seeds continuously from August through February then harvest as ready. The normal growing season is from late October until May.

However, the native Florida Wild Everglades Tomato can be grown year round in South Florida. The Everglades tomato, also known as the currant tomato, is well adapted to South Florida's scorching summers. Plants will set dime-sized fruit in about 50 days. This is a cherry-type heirloom, with a sweet, real tomato taste. It is great for hot/humid climates. They grow in clusters of 8, about the size of a penny (half inch). These supposedly grow wild in the Florida Everglades. Local gardeners refer to it as “wild tomato.” Some claimed it is native to the area but the more likely story is that it had “escaped” into the Everglades and naturalized to that environment. Wild ‘Everglades’ tomato is ideal for South Florida gardens. It produces fruit at any time of year, while most tomatoes require cool night time temperatures to set fruit.



"With modest watering, it will thrive if neglected," says Darrell Batton, a Martin County resident who writes the coastal gardening blog, FloridaHillbilly.com. "Once established, you almost cannot get rid of it."

The one drawback is that tomatoes are diminutive, about the size of a dime and usually smaller. But while the fruit is small, the taste is tremendous. This "currant" tomato is indeterminate, and can grow to 12 feet or more. Don’t expect to see Everglades tomatoes in stores any time soon — their very thin skin and tender texture mean they don’t keep well once picked.

Plants are not sold in garden centers but seeds are available for purchase from vendors online. Batton will send a free seed packet (from his home-grown fruit) if you send him a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Get details at FloridaHillbilly.com/the-everglades-tomato

Seeds are available from Southern J Ranch (West Palm Beach, Florida ) for $5 (35 Seeds), free shipping, http://www.localharvest.org/store/M42282

Here is how to grow the wild Florida Everglades tomato in pots:

1. Get a 5-gallon or 7-gallon pot and fill about 1/2 up with rich organic potting mix with coarse sand. You may also add in a calcium supplement to mix into your soil. Plant the seeds just at the depth of the seed (very shallow). Wild Florida Everglades tomato seeds will come up in about 7-10 days. As they sprout, thin to 3-5 per pot.

2. As your sprouts get taller, add more soil right up to their necks - just below the level of the top new leaves. Fill so only the top leaves are uncovered with soil. As your plants grow, continue to repeat these soil additions until you have reached 1-2 inches from the top edge of your pot. What you are doing is creating more soil for the stems to create roots. Along the entire depth of your pot your tomatoes are growing roots making this an incredibly well rooted plant able to draw nutrition from 6-8 inches of soil.

3. Feed with fish emulsion fertilizer and composted cow manure. You can mix in composted manure as part of your mix as you fill the pot. In about 50-60 days you will have many tasty cherry tomatoes. Pick and eat daily. Well cared for, these indeterminate vines will grow as much as 15 feet tall so expect to stake or trellis them for maximum fruit production.



The vines will grow, flower and fruit continuously for several months. If you live in South Florida, you can plant these native tomatoes continuously all year around and enjoy the fruit 12 months a year. In zones 9 and 10, start seeds with plans to plant your garden starting August and you can keep planting monthly until May-June. Spring-Summer plantings tend to be even better than Fall-Winter for fruit yield.

Hopkins Nursery is in western Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Florida).

Rare Perennial Everglades Tomato Grows all Year in South Florida - YouTube http://buff.ly/1hAJDj3



Bonnie plants website lists Heat Tolerant Tomatoes http://buff.ly/1wzQm6H , among them Phoenix, cherokee purple, black prince, solar fire, black cherry, husky cherry red, and marion.

References:

Wild ‘Everglades’ tomato is ideal for South Florida gardens - Miami Herald Home & Garden http://buff.ly/1hAJvA6
Everglades Tomato is February Plant of the Month - Sun Sentinel http://buff.ly/1hALxAm
Wild Florida Everglades Tomato, article on MGonline http://buff.ly/1lqlgLX
Wild Florida Everglades Tomato at MGonline Store http://buff.ly/1lqlnai
Native Florida Tomato Wild Everglades - 10 Seeds - Fl Grown - Highly Recommended - Plants- Ethnobotanical - Plants and Seeds - Florida - Heavenly-Products http://buff.ly/1lqlwdK

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