I love homegrown organic cherry tomatoes. There is something magical about picking them off the plant and popping them in your mouth as you work in the garden. The also add warm color to a tossed salad.
Cherry tomatoes are abundant in the summer months, but what is extra special is if you can stretch your season longer, so you get them earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Obviously, Southern states have a longer growing season, but there are a few things you can do to extend your tomato season no matter where you live.
First, include cherry tomatoes in your plant selection for those you want to extend their season target. Cherry tomatoes tend to be more hardy and easier to grow than other tomatoes. They also tend to have a naturally longer growing season than other varieties.
Second, if its an option, start your plants indoors while its still cold out. Plant a few of your favorite varieties early indoors to give the seedlings a head start so when it finally is warm enough outside, your plant will be close to producing. If the indoor route isn't an option, you can buy small plants from a nursery and transplant them to your garden once there is no more frost.
Third, plant cherry tomatoes in full sun. This is especially important if you are trying to stretch their growing season. Tomato plants prefer full sun and do their best there.
Fourth, after you transplant the seedlings, as a safety measure, put black plastic or some other cover on the plants at night to hold in the warmth. I always recommend heavy mulch to help them along. Seedlings are delicate when they are first transplanted, so a little extra care can make the difference between happy tomatoes and dead tomatoes.
Fifth, if you live where frost is likely, consider using a cold frame. They sell fancy cold frames or you can make one out of wood. I've also heard of people creating cold frames from straw bales, old tires and old bricks. Basically it provides a way to retain heat and protect delicate plants if the weather turns cold.
The tomatoes shown at the top of this post were picked a few days before Halloween. since cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, with a little care and attention to cold nights, we can easily lengthen the growing season of this plant another month or two.
Best of luck with your veggies and I'll be posting more tomato recipes soon.