Volunteer Tomatoes

Do you see this? This is a picture of the rock wall that borders my driveway (with stairs in the background, that lead up to our cozy little cottage).  The wall is actually quite pretty (I’m just a lousy photographer); one of those old-timey New England stone walls that you find all over the place in our neck of the woods. The wall gets fun sun, Western exposure, and as you can see, I haven’t been very diligent about weeding it this summer.

Do you see this?  A big, sprawling plant, blending in amongst the weeds that line the wall?  What do you think it is?

Does this help?

Or this?

I only just today realized that I have a volunteer tomato plant growing in the driveway. (I was standing in the driveway, saying goodbye to my friend Nadine who had come over to visit for the morning. Ironically enough, we were talking about last year’s garden, and compost, and how well the apple tree was looking… and I caught this flash of red out of the corner of my eye.) For the last two years, I’ve grown tomatoes, in containers, lined up in a row along this rock wall, because the sun beats strongly here and they love the heat & reflection off the wall.  Last year, my cherry tomatoes, a Matt’s Wild Cherry variety (grown from seeds that I bought three years ago at Seeds of Change), were the only plants that survived the blight.  This year, I find this: a perfectly healthy, if somewhat stunted, volunteer tomato plant. No watering, no fertilizing, hardly any soil to speak of; no obsessing over hornworns, leaf hoppers, or aphids. Just growing there and producing fruit that is busily ripening on the vine.

This year, what with spring/summer trips to North Carolina, California and South Africa that kept me away from home for nearly two months, my garden just did not happen.  I’ve missed it; not only the leafy greenness decorating the deck, but the thrill of harvesting your very own food. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this plant. (I might have jumped up & down and clapped my hands, squealing like a girl – but I’ll deny it to my dying day). I remember telling someone last summer that Matt’s Wild Cherry was the easiest heirloom tomato to grow, in my limited experience. What better proof than this?


  1. I had three volunteer cherry tomato plants pop up around my place – two where they were planted last year (which is now home to lettuces and kale), and one out of our compost bin! Last year all of the plants we put in were heirloom transplants – I’m tempted to track down the farmer I bought them from to find out if they were the same variety as yours.

  2. Jes

    Volunteer tomatoes are the best! There are a bunch up here at the farm I’m taking care of this week–I love how they pop up in random place. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the fruit so much more knowing that they’re nature’s gifts!

  3. Not something that I’m used to as a container-gardener; but I’ll take it! 🙂

    Matt’s Wild cherry tomatoes are tiny; the size of a small marble, quite prolific on the big, bushy determinate plant. They are very red, almost jewel-like when ripe, and very sweet. Delicious, really. I haven’t seen any cherry tomatoes this small for sale at any of the markets, so.. if yours are a teeny, tiny variety, they might just be Matt’s Wild.

  4. Love, love volunteer tomato plants! I have a few every year. This year they are up in my flower bed. I had forgotten that I had dumped some rotten ‘maters in there late in the season, and this year I was walking by only to see them looking lovely. Another easy cherry is Mexican Cocktail Cherry. Prolific, hard to kill, easy to neglect. Fun!

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  6. Tony

    Hello everyone!I have a few Volunteer Cherry Tomato plants in my back yard what i belived that my son played a small tomato from last year.They grow big and spread everywhere in my back yard and they have a lot of fruits.Could someone please,tell me if we can eat them or i have to get rid of plants?.Thanks for your help.

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