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How to Care for Santorini Tomato Plants

tomatoes image by Snezana Skundric from Fotolia.com

Santorini cherry tomatoes are well known among culinary circles in Greece for their aroma and full flavor. As the name indicates, these tiny tomatoes originate from Greek island of Santorini in the Mediterranean Sea. The first cultivation of this variety is believed to date from 1875 although the original seeds arrived in Greece as early as 1818. Although the Santorini variety can be grown much like any other cherry tomato, it is difficult to reproduce the strong flavor of the originals due to the mineral-rich volcanic soil that predominates in their native habitat. Another problem is finding seeds for this plant. The best bet is to check with seed exchanges or heirloom variety collectors as you won’t find Santorini tomato seeds available from regular sources.

Mix a small amount of seed starter mix with enough water to moisten it and fill the planting tray with 1 or 2 inches of the mix. Place a seed in each cell of the tray and cover with 1/4 inch of the mix. Press the mix down gently to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Keep the tray in a warm place and maintain the moisture of the soil.

Move the tray to a window sill or other light source after the seeds have sprouted. Continue to keep the starter mix moist but not wet.

Fill the 1-gallon pots with a blend of equal parts potting soil, perlite and peat moss. Add to this mix 1 tbsp. of lime to bring up the pH level. Transplant the seedlings to the pots after they have developed a second set of leaves. Keep the young plants indoors until at least a month after the last frost. Place the containers in full sun. A southern exposure against a building will provide additional warmth and protection.

Place wooden stakes in the pots when the Santorini tomato plants are 6 to 8 inches high. Tie the stem loosely to the stake and continue this every 6 inches as the plant grows.

Water sparingly as these tomatoes are well adapted to the dry conditions of Santorini. Allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry out between each watering.

Fertilize your plants by adding some well-aged compost to the potting soil every few weeks. Keep an eye out for black spots on the bottom of fruit which is known as blossom end rot. This can be corrected adding more lime to the potting soil. Harvest your tomatoes as they ripen on the vine.

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