Written by Connie Gladding
Master Gardener Volunteer
Given up on growing tomatoes in northeast Florida? Want fresh tomatoes all winter and spring? Here’s a solution: order seeds or find someone with an everglades tomato plant. Beg them to share a cutting or a few tomatoes. Place either in the ground and you will be harvesting tomatoes in about two months.
Growing up in southeast Missouri, our soil was fertile; soil that was routinely nourished during spring floods along the Mississippi River. I have fond memories of our family vegetable garden and enjoying tomatoes fresh off the vine in mid to late summer.
Our northeast Florida soil isn’t as fertile and it is so difficult to grow flavorful tomatoes in our heat and humidity. The tomatoes most of us are familiar with and attempt to grow are Solanum lycopersicum. The Everglades tomato is an heirloom variety, Solanum pimpinellifolium; it thrives here and is relatively pest free.
I was given an Everglades tomato seedling last fall and it is now a sprawling plant 3 feet wide by 4 feet high. It produces multiple pints weekly; more than enough to share with family and neighbors.
The plants are easy to grow. The fruit is flavorful; berry-sized, slightly smaller than cherry tomatoes; and thin skinned. One caution, be gentle when you pick your harvest so as to not squish the tomato. The tomatoes are tasty in salads and perfect for bruschetta, snacking, and in soups.
To learn more about growing tomatoes follow this link to University of Florida guidance https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1189