Hundreds of Marble and Pearl sized tomatoes
If you’ve not yet heard of ‘Red Currant‘ and ‘Yellow Currant‘ tomatoes then you’re in for a treat. These unusual heirloom plants are the ancestors of modern tomato varieties and produce literally hundreds of fruits the size of a marble or smaller. Found growing wild on a Peruvian beach in 1707, their petite size makes them perfect for snacking and adding whole to recipes.
- Currant tomatoes grow in the same way as other cordon tomatoes
- If the side shoots are not pinched out the plants will grow wild and bushy
- I grew red and yellow types and the fruits of both were crisp and semi-sweet
- They tolerate cooler temperatures
- Fruited from July to October in my greenhouse
- Very disease resistant
- Heavy producers — literally hundreds of berries
- The berries range in size from a standard small cherry tomato to the size of a pearl
- In the UK, get plants and seeds here: Dobies of Devon
- In the USA, get them here: ‘Red Currant‘ and ‘Yellow Currant‘
I was sent plants from Dobies of Devon
I’d actually had never heard of currant tomatoes before six tomato plant plugs arrived in the post. They were sent to me by Dobies of Devon, a seed and plant retailer in the United Kingdom, and arrived last year in March.
This was the first time I’d ever had plug plants in the mail before and I was surprised that they held up so well. I wish there were a way to send them without so much plastic packaging though and hope that Dobies and other plant retailers are looking into solutions.
From plugs to full grown plants
I planted the plug plants into a tray with ordinary peat-free compost and then grew them on until May. I then planted the two best of each colour in my greenhouse alongside two other tomato plants that I placed between them. You can see in the image above that the yellow currant tomatoes are on the left, an heirloom pear variety in the middle, and the two plants at the back are the red currant tomatoes.
While the plants were growing I grew lettuces and basil in the trough alongside them. I also watched as the currant tomatoes bushed out and decided to just let them grow in the natural and wild way that they’re used to. And did they grow! They were so vigorous that they crowded out the pear variety both in height and in breadth. Knowing this now, I’ll definitely pinch out the side shoots when I grow this variety again.
They began fruiting in July
The compost they were planted into was a mixture of homemade garden compost, composted horse manure, and some peat-free multi-purpose compost I bought from a local gardening centre. I kept the plants well watered and fed them with liquid seaweed fertilizer every couple of weeks after they began setting flowers. I also left the greenhouse door open in the day to encourage pollinators to come in and do their work.
Towards the end of July they started fruiting. Long cordons of green fruit ranging in size from a small cherry tomato to the size of a pearl began forming. Then the larger ones started ripening and I was able to pick them for the month of August before we went on holiday.
A Long Fruiting Period
While we were away, our house sitters kept the plants watered and helped themselves to the fruits. When we finally got back home after five weeks away, the plants were still producing! They slowed down in mid-October and by the end of that month I cleared them from the trough and composted the vines. Check out the video below to see how the plants looked on the 21st of October.
Eating Currant Tomatoes
Picking the tomatoes can be a little bit of a chore, which is my only gripe. The fruits are small and delicate and there are just so many to pick! Is that really a bad thing though? If you’re one for picking and eating right off the plant this might be your perfect tomato variety. The flavour of both red and yellow types is sweet yet tart and each berry is the perfect size for snacking.
Growing the plants alongside basil turned out to be a good idea.It did get crowded out a bit but the plants hung on since they were right at the front of the planter. One of the best ways I prepared currant tomatoes was tossed with spaghetti noodles, feta cheese, and shredded basil. Each bite was a pop in your mouth of juicy homegrown sweetness.