Tomato 'Red Fig'
Scientific Name: Solanum lycopersicum
Common Name: Tomato 'Red Fig'
Red fig is a heirloom tomato variety that was first bred in the early 18th century in the USA.
The red fig tomato variety produces lots of small pear-shaped fruits up to 4cm in diameter. They have a rich, tomato flavour and are very sweet with a thin skin. Excellent in salads but they're at their best eaten as a snack straight off the vines while gardening. Highly decorative when mixed together with different coloured heirloom cherry and pear-shaped tomato varieties. Excellent variety for sun drying. Used as an alternative to dried figs during the mid 19th century when this variety was at the height of its popularity.
Tomato plants will produce best and ripen quickest when grown in full sun. Growers in warmer climates may prefer to plant tomatoes in light shade to avoid heat-stress on plants during the hottest parts of the day. Tomatoes grow best in a fertile soil that is rich in organic matter, if your garden is lacking place down a layer of compost or well-rotted manure prior to planting. Top dress around tomato plants with a complete organic fertiliser if growth is slow or at the first sign of any leaf yellowing or other nutrient deficiencies. Water tomatoes consistently, especially when the fruit are developing as they will be prone to cracking if watering is inconsistent. Avoid watering the leaves as this can spread the spores of fungal diseases such as tomato leaf blight. To reduce splash-back of fungal spores from the soil onto the leaves of your tomato plants trim off any lower suckers and leaves as they grow and place mulch around them which will also help retain moisture and keep their root systems cool. Red fig is an indeterminate climbing variety of tomato and requires a sturdy trellis for support, to allow airflow around the leaves and keep the vines and fruits off the ground where they may otherwise be damaged by pests or suffer from fungal issues. Poor fruit set in tomatoes is usually due to a lack of insect pollinators, this can be solved via hand pollination by tapping on any open flower vigorously about once a week. Doing this will knock the pollen from the male anthers onto the female stigmas of each flower causing pollination and allowing the tomato fruit to fully develop and ripen.
When to Sow
In temperate regions of Australia sow red fig tomato seeds during Spring, as soon as any chance of frost has past. In frost-free subtropical areas of Australia sow red fig tomato seeds from early Autumn through to early Spring. In tropical regions of Australia sow red fig tomato seeds during the dry season, from late Autumn to mid Winter is best to reduce fungal issues.
How to Sow
Sow red fig tomato seeds 6mm deep, to produce plants with maximum vigour sow several seeds per planting hole and thin to the healthiest seedlings after a few weeks growth. Space red fig tomato plants 60cm apart to provide their extensive root systems room to expand and facilitate airflow between plants which will help reduce fungal diseases such as tomato leaf blight. When planting out seedlings bury them deeply, up to the level of the seed leaves (cotyledons). Tomatoes have what is known as adventitious roots, any of the hairs along their stems have the potential to grow into a root if it's buried. Planting tomato seedlings deeply will create a more extensive root system better able to extract nutrients and moisture from the surrounding soil and provide better support for the plants helping to prevent them from toppling over in strong winds.
Tomato seeds are relatively quick to germinate, most seedlings will emerge 7 to 13 days after sowing.
Time to Harvest
Red fig is an early tomato variety taking between 10 and 11 weeks to begin producing fruit.