Just when you thought you'd seen every possible shape of tomato, along comes this highly unusual variety.
‘Tomatoberry’ was introduced by the Tokita Seed Company which was responsible for rolling out one of the most successful of modern varieties, the ultra-sweet ‘Sungold.’ An immediate success, Tomatoberry won third place innovation award at the Fruit Logistica show in Berlin in 2008. Judged as the world’s third most revolutionary product, this does leave one wondering what the two top awards could have been.
‘Tomatoberry’ is a little tomato that is shaped like a strawberry, it reaches about an inch in length, making it perfect for all your inch-long, strawberry-shaped needs, whatever they may be.
‘F1 Tomatoberry Garden’ has been developed for home gardeners and is quite unique. The fruits are only about 2.5cm (1in) across. Wide at the shoulder and tapering to a blunt point at the blossom end, these grape-sized tomatoes are notably heart-shaped. they resemble large strawberries both for sweetness and appearance. Different from traditional mini tomatoes in that its extreme sweetness balances out its acidity, making it a delicious snack for even those who don’t like tomatoes.
An early ripening cordon variety, the fruits are borne on long, hanging clusters of up to thirty tomatoes. Sweet and fleshy with a firm texture, they resist cracking and carry more sweet juice than most cherry tomatoes.
Tomatoberry Garden is suitable for both indoor and outdoor cultivation. Recommend for the earliest of harvests from the greenhouse, it will also produce well in a sheltered, sunny spot outdoors for those who live in warmer, drier climates.
The indeterminate vines grow to a height of 200cm (80in) and a spread of 50cm (20in). 60 days to maturity.
With the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity they are scrumptious eaten right off the vine, and are perfect for snacking or for playing the starring role in your summer salad bowl.
As they cannot tolerate any degree of frost the timing for sowing and planting outside is key to successfully growing tomatoes. Where the seeds are sown under cover or indoors, aim to sow the seeds so that they reach the stage to be transplanted outside three weeks after the last frost date. Tomato plants take roughly seven weeks from sowing to reach the transplanting stage. For example, if your last frost date is early May, the seeds should be planted in early April to allow transplanting at the end of May.
Tomatoes require a full sun position. Two or three weeks before planting, dig the soil over and incorporate as much organic matter as possible.
The best soil used for containers is half potting compost and half a soil-based type loam: this gives some weight to the soil.
Plant about 3mm (1/8in) deep, in small pots using seed starting compost. Water lightly and keep consistently moist until germination occurs. Tomato seeds usually germinate within 5 to 10 days when kept in the optimum temperature range of 21 to 27°C (70 to 80°F). As soon as they emerge, place them in a location that receives a lot of light and a cooler temperature (60 to 70°F); a south-facing window should work.
When the plants develop their first true leaves, and before they become root bound, they should be transplanted into larger into 20cm (4in) pots. Young plants are very tender and susceptible to frost damage, as well as sunburn. I protect my young plants by placing a large plastic milk jug, with the bottom removed, to form a miniature greenhouse.
Depending on the components of your compost, you may need to begin fertilising. If you do fertilise, do it very, very sparingly with a weak dilution. Transplant into their final positions when they are about 15cm (6in) high. Two to three weeks prior to this, the plants should be hardened off.
Just before transplanting the tomato plants to their final position drive a strong stake into the ground 5cm (2in) from the planting position. The stake should be at least 30cm (1ft) deep in the ground and 1.2m (4ft) above ground level - the further into the ground the better the support. As the plant grows, tie in the main stem to the support stake - check previous ties to ensure that they do not cut into the stem as the plant grows. Dig a hole 45cm (18in) apart in the bed to the same depth as the pot and water if conditions are at all dry. Ease the plant out of the pot, keeping the root ball as undisturbed as far as possible. Place it in the hole and fill around the plant with soil. The soil should be a little higher than it was in the pot. Loosely tie the plant's stem to the support stake using soft garden twine –allow some slack for future growth.
A constant supply of moisture is essential, dry periods significantly increase the risk of the fruit splitting. Feed with a liquid tomato fertiliser (high in potash) starting when the first fruits start to form, and every two or three weeks up to the end of August. In September, feed with a general fertiliser (higher in nitrogen) in order to help the plant support it's foliage. Over watering may help to produce larger fruit, but flavour may be reduced. Additionally, splitting and cracking can result from uneven and excessive watering.
When the first fruits begin to form, pinch out the side shoots between the main stem. Also remove lower leaves which show any signs of yellowing to avoid infection.
Pick as soon as the fruits are ripe, this also encourages the production of more fruit. Harvest all the fruit as soon as frost threatens and ripen on a window sill.
Developed by a seed company out of Japan called Tokita Seed Company. Since its introduction in 2007, Tomatoberry has been an immediate success. It won the 3rd place award for innovation at the 2008 Fruit Logistica show in Berlin and now features in restaurants throughout Japan.
The story goes that tomato breeder Iwao Tokita came up with the new tomato about four years previously, but he was unhappy with the shape. He considered it a complete failure but when his daughter saw them and convinced him that they were actually quite cute, and notably heart shaped. The inventor took his new tomato on the road he was greeted with nothing but love.
Shaped like a heart, it is a perfect fit for bento boxes and for Japan’s kawaii (cute) culture.
Actual cultivation of the Tomatoberry is limited to farmers, but the newly bred variety of seeds makes it possible for them to be grown at home via Tomatoberry Garden.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Common Name Grape Tomato
Vine / Cordon (Indeterminate)
Other Common Names Grape Tomato Family Solanaceae Genus Lycopersicon Species esculentum Cultivar F1 Tomatoberry Garden Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Fruit Red. 2.5cm (1in) across. Wide at the shoulder and tapering to a blunt point at the blossom end Height 200cm (80in) Spread 50cm (20in) Time to Sow Time to Harvest 55 to 60 days to maturity.