Pros: This plant just never quits.
Cons: Like all tomatoes, it loves heat. You'll need "tricks" to grow it in cool climates.
January might not seem like the month to have tomatoes on the brain. But I'm always champing at the bit just after the New Year, poring over seed catalogs and deciding what's going to be growing in my garden come summer. I have grown the Peacevine cherry tomato for many years. It is one of the very few constants in my garden line up. I have grown it in containers and in the ground. I have grown it in Belgium, in California, and on the east coast. Each year I grow only one, or at most two, Peacevine plants, because one of this variety's most striking attributes is the abundance of fruit that it sets.
An indeterminate tomato, the Peacevine yields a steady supply of very small, very flavorful deep red cherry tomatoes for three months or more. I typically remove suckers from all varieties of tomato that I grow, or at least I try to keep up with removing them. Invariably, some escape my attentions. I try especially hard with the Peacevine, because these plants will go absolutely bonkers with their fruit production if not kept in check. No matter what I have tried over the years, inevitably there comes a week when the Peacevine is producing more cherry tomatoes than I can eat or give away. Some rot on the vine, leading to volunteer seedlings the next year. Most autumns, when it's time to clean up the garden, the Peacevine still has lots of green fruit on it. This plant just doesn't quit.
Tomato plants fortunately have few pests, so they are easy to grow in a backyard garden without sprays or pesticides. Once my seedlings are in the ground, mulched, and established, I rarely provide them with extra help in the form of natural fertilizers or even water, unless it is exceptionally dry. The Peacevine plants I have grown over the years have performed consistently and have never been troublesome.
If you like the look of a cluster of little cherry tomatoes still attached to a central stem, you'll love the Peacevine. Typically, the fruits are set close together, though they are sometimes more widely set. These are lovely when all the fruits are ripe. But usually the fruits ripen sequentially, with some outer fruits still green while the inner fruits are perfectly ripe.
I have had very good luck germinating Peacevine seeds, even a year or two after the season they were packaged for. I usually start four times the number of plants I want in seedling containers. I keep the most robust specimens for myself and give away or compost the less promising ones. I have seen germination rates of close to 100% with Peacevine seeds.
I have found the flavor of Peacevine cherry tomatoes to be good to excellent, but subject to variables in the environment. The very earliest fruits usually lack sweetness. Like all tomatoes, the Peacevine produces best when the days are hot. In cooler climates, the flavor can suffer throughout the season. In such areas the best option I found was to grow the plant in a container and place it in an area where it will bake in the sun for at least several hours each day. Next to an asphalt driveway is a good choice, or in front of a south-facing brick wall. If these options are not available, try laying an old tire on the ground and planting your tomato seedling in the hole. The black rubber will absorb solar energy, heating up the plant, and release the heat overnight, keeping the plant warm longer. As with many viney plants, the taste of the Peacevine fruit is improved when the plant suffers a little. Abundant water makes for watery fruits with a poor concentration of sugars. An established tomato plant in the earth can tolerate periods of low water very well. In fact, when a heavy rain is expected, I try to harvest as many fruits as possible. After heavy rainfall I find that many of the tiny tomatoes have swelled so much that their skins have split.
In warm climates, when the Peacevine is in maximum production mode, it's nearly impossible to resist just picking the sun-warmed fruits and popping them straight into my mouth. And there's really no good reason to resist either. The fruit set is so large that freshly picked Peacevine cherry tomatoes become the obvious anytime-of-day snack food. I just walk into the garden and start eating.
I recommend the Peacevine cherry tomato to any gardener or aspiring gardener. It is a reliable and trouble-free cultivar that produces abundantly if given anything close to the right conditions. Even novice gardeners will find this a rewarding plant to grow.
Other garden reviews
Seeds: Arugula Sylvetta, Peacevine Cherry Tomato, Cherokee Purple Tomato, Bleu de Solaize Leek, Kale Lacinato, Spicy Bush Basil, Dark Purple Opal Basil, Purple Ruffles Basil, Sangre Heirloom Potato, La Ratte Heirloom Potato, Cherokee Trail of Tears Soup Bean, Moon & Stars Watermelon,
Tools: Ironwood Dibble, Johnny's 520 Broadfork, Biostack Composter, Hori Hori Garden Knife, Forged Bypass Pruners, Anvil Pruners, Vigoro Polyleaf Rake, Ace Select-A-Spray Garden Nozzle, Buffalo Mud Boots,
Reference books: Four-Season Harvest, Backyard Composting, 75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden, Root Cellaring, Complete Guide to Making Great Garlic Powder, Great Garden Companions, Living with Chickens, Mycelium Running, Apples,
Seed Vendors: Seeds of Change, Seed Saver's Exchange, Gourmet Garlic Gardens