The story goes that the Cherokee Indians gave ‘Cherokee Purple’ to a man in Tennessee in the late 1800s. If this is true, the tomato is an heirloom variety. Unfortunately, ‘Cherokee Purple’s’ documentation only goes back to 1990 so some authorities do not consider it an heirloom. Whether or not it is an heirloom does not change the fact that it is a unique tomato with an unusual color as well as a very desirable flavor and texture. The roundish fruits have green shoulders and are deep purple/red inside as well as out. The flesh is dense and juicy with small areas containing seeds scattered throughout. The fruits do not have a problem with cracking and the plants are tolerant of mild drought and are somewhat resistant to common diseases.

Days to Harvest: 80

Planting Date: Start seed 5-6 weeks before planting out; set out side in garden when soil is warm and night temperatures are 55 degrees or more.

Spacing: 2 ½’

Germination: 5-10 days under ideal conditions

Size: Indeterminate

Light: Full sun

Water: 1-1/2″ per week; keep evenly moist to avoid blossom end rot and other problems.

Soil: Fertile, moist, well drained.

Fertilizer: Apply ½ cup 8-8-8 (or 10-10-10) fertilizer around each plant when setting out and a side dressing of 8-8-8 ever 4-8 weeks once the plants have begun to set fruit. N.B. Too much nitrogen will produce lots of leaves but less fruit.

Care: Provide stakes or cages; mulch after planting.

Pests and Diseases: Somewhat resistant to common tomato diseases but susceptible to tomato hornworms and whiteflies.

Suitability for Containers: Other, smaller cultivars are more appropriate.

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By Karen