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Wild Florida Everglades Tomato

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Zone 9-10 for year-around growth
but OK in all states in your season

Sometime in the 1980's we were shopping at Hopkins Nursery in western Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and enjoying a personal golf cart tour of their plants.  Several interesting events occurred on our way to find Stevia.

At the edge of a large shade house, I spotted what looked like a tomato plant.  But it was a hot July afternoon in South Florida and tomatoes do not grow in the summer in zone 10.  Our normal season is to plant seeds continuously from August through February then harvest as ready.  Never are there tomatoes in July

But Mrs. Hopkins explained this was no ordinary (hybrid) tomato.  This was the native wild Florida Everglades tomato.   Having never heard of such a plant, I was skeptical, even with a professional fruit expert like the Hopkins just didn't make sense

Mrs. Hopkins encouraged me to taste a few and they were outstanding.  Sweet with a delightful true tomato taste.  She also said I could take a few more of these cherry tomatoes and plant the seeds.  We did just that and we were astounded by the bounty both planted in the ground and from tomato plants in pots

Months later we were speaking with Mr. Lamar Bishop of the Broward County Agricultural Extension Service and he confirmed this was a native Florida fruit.  He had been planting them for many years

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

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

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

Feed with fish emulsion fertilizer and composted cow manure.  In fact, you can mix in composted manure as part of your mix as you fill the pot.  Dehydrated cow or sheep manure is also excellent to use.  Easier is to use time release pellet food

In about 50-60 days you will have zillions of unbelievably 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.  More usual are vines 7-10 feet long

Tony from AL wrote in to say,   ...we are picking as much as two one-gallon buckets a week. it takes about 580 tomatoes to fill a one gallon bucket. i planted them in my greenhouse last fall. the vines grew out of the roof between the frame and the windows before spring. my step ladder is only 12 feet high so there is a lot i cannot reach. the vines are growing around our pond and behind the chicken pen. my parents are growing them in MN. we take our extras to the senior center and many of the people are growing them. one of the ladies who is growing the tomatoes from the seeds you sent me has named them "Sweet Little Darlin's". we have had more fun with those little tomatoes than anything we have ever grown. thanks!

Your 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

You can cut the vines off and plant them and they will re-root so you can get many starts from the one plant ...Thank you Jeannie from Florida

We prefer planting the seeds which you can not do with hybrid tomato seeds because they are NOT TRUE to seed.  No telling what quality of fruit will grow if you try

The very easiest way to plant seeds is to take a very ripe fruit then gently squish it into the soil with your shoe where you want tomato plants to grow.  This technique is 100% sure to grow (many) plants in that spot (you'll have to thin the sprouts)

If want to order your own wild Florida Everglades tomato, click here