The Black Russian is an old variety of beefsteak tomato that sports a rich, complex, and almost smoky flavor. It’s a later-ripening, indeterminate, tomato with slightly flattened, mahogany-coloured fruits. Great for sandwiches and sauces, and especially nice dried.
|Germination||7 - 14 Days|
|Sowing Method||Indoors Sow (trays)|
|Days to Maturity||75 Days|
|Greenhouse / Polytunnel||Recommended|
|Recommended Soil pH||5.5-7.0|
 The Black Russian is well known for its tasty mix of sweet and tart, followed by spicy and smoky undertones. The flavour intensifies when the tomatoes are dried, making them especially tasty in recipes calling for sun-dried tomatoes. As far as tomato plants go, the Black Russian is of the later-ripening variety, indeterminate and regular-leafed. The plants are sturdy and only need to be pruned sufficiently to maintain good air circulation. Black Russian’s are similar in flavour to the Cherokee Purple, but its shape is more flattened. Its fruits are medium-sized (6-10oz) and rich mahogany in color. Good for sandwiches and sauces.
Starting Indoors: Start by sowing seeds in trays of good compost 2cm apart, in modules with 2 seeds per cell, or in peat pots. Cover with glass or plastic to make sure soil after gently watering to ensure the soil stays evenly moist. Keep soil temperature to about 18C. Germination takes about 7-14 days with heat and up to two weeks without.
Remove the glass/plastic cover once seedlings appear. Transplant into small pots as soon as 2-4 true leaves have formed. Thin module seedlings to one per cell. When first truss of flowers appear, transplant to permanent growing site. If planting outdoors, make sure to harden plants off gradually before transplanting.
When growing tomatoes outdoors, wait until all risk of frost has passed before transplanting. Also, make sure to harden the plants off, gradually acclimatising them to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 - 10 days, and then plant them out from early June when the plants are 20 cm (8") tall. Plants should be set 45 cm apart with 75 cm between rows.
Stake the plants by tying the stem loosely to a cane or other support.
Make sure you remove unnecessary foliage as it helps provide air around the plant and helps it to colour quicker. To prune, remove the side shoots above the leaf joint when they reach 2cm length. This will help maintain good ventilation and helps it to colour more quickly. Also, take out the growing point when the plants reach the greenhouse eaves or the top of the cane outdoors.
Water regularly and often. Uneven watering can causes fruit to split and/or blossom end rot - black blotches on the end that cause the fruit to rot.
Harvest when fruit is fully filled out and mahogany in colour. Tomatoes are not frost hardy so make sure to harvest them all before the frost comes. Use the green tomatoes for chutneys or cooked in stir-fries.