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The Carbon Tomato

The award-winning Carbon tomato is a large, smooth, beautiful fruit that’s one of the most gorgeous purple types around. They are renowned for a complex flavor that sets them apart from your average tomato. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Carbon tomato to better understand what all the fuss is about.

Closeup of dark reddish purple tomatoes, closely resembling Carbon tomato fruit.

Characteristics of the Carbon Tomato

First, let’s explore some of the unique characteristics of the Carbon Tomato. These heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate, heavy feeders and have a high tolerance for drought and high heat conditions.

Ripening Season

The Carbon is a mid-season tomato that takes 80 to 95 days to mature.

Tomato qualities

The Carbon tomato is a large, firm, meaty tomato. Its flesh is deep red with light to dark purple shoulders. It has a vibrant, sweet, smokey flavor. These fruits are marketed as “crack resistant,” but according to several growers, they tend to split.

Closeup of dark reddish purple tomato slices.

Tomato size

These tomatoes range in weight from 8 to 14 ounces and measure two to four inches across. The plants can grow between five to seven feet tall.

Planting Zones

Carbon tomatoes can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 11. The ideal temperature ranges from 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. These tomatoes are not frost-hardy.

Size and Spacing

You want to plant Carbon tomatoes 24 to 36 inches apart and use either heavy-duty stakes or large cages. When transplanting from indoors, plant deeply, leaving only the top one to two sets of leaves showing (pinch off the rest). Also, remember to moisten your soil before planting.

Person planting tomatoes in the garden.


Carbon tomatoes, like all heirlooms, are open-pollinated, which means they use natural pollinators such as bumblebees, bees, birds, and the wind.

Plant Care

Carbon tomatoes require no special care, are easy to grow, and you’ll need to follow the basic best practices for growing tomatoes.


These tomatoes require full sun, between 6 to 10 hours a day. However, be sure to protect your plants from sunscald. You can learn more about protecting your tomatoes from sunscald in this sunscald guide.

Tomato plant with unripe fruit on the vine.


All tomatoes varieties thrive in acidic soil with a 6.0 to 6.8 pH. Your soil should be well-draining and loose, amended with decomposed manure and compost about 24 to 36 inches deep. You can also add a few ground or crushed eggshells to your soil. This also helps in preventing blossom end rot. If your soil happens to be clay, you can condition it by tilling it with sand. This handy guide can learn more about planting tomatoes in clay soil.

It’s also a good idea to test your soil’s pH to find out what nutrients are already present and which need boosting. You can learn more about conducting soil tests in this soil testing guide.

Person holding handfuls of composted soil.


To water your tomato plants, spread about a two to three-inch layer of mulch around them. Be sure not to let the mulch touch the base of your plant. You should have three inches of space between the plant base and your circle of mulch. Water your plant regularly at the base of the plant. Never water directly onto the foliage. Most varieties require at least an inch of water per week.


Like most tomatoes, Carbons are heavy feeders, which means you need an organic blend fertilizer rich in phosphorous and potassium with low to moderate nitrogen levels. The exact ratio will depend on your soil type. However, an excellent all-purpose blend is 10-10-10 if you are not sure about your soil’s Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (NPK) levels.


Pruning tomato plants is an integral part of maintenance and can make a big difference in your yield. You can watch this instructional video and check out this pruning guide for more on pruning.

Person pinching sucker from tomato plant.


Like many heirloom varieties, Carbon has a high resistance to many common tomato diseases. However, you still need to be on guard against a few by using preventative measures, which you can find in this guide to tomato diseases.


Certain pests such as snails, birds, cutworms, grasshoppers, hornworms, and other insects can wreak havoc upon your tomatoes. Learn how to combat these creatures in this helpful guide about common tomatoes pests.

When to Harvest Carbon Tomatoes

You can harvest your tomatoes about 80 to 95 days after you’ve sown your seeds indoors.

Picked dark reddish purple tomatoes.

Common Uses For Carbon Tomatoes

Carbon is one of the most flavorful tomato varieties globally, with a savory, smoky flavor that growers can’t stop raving about. In fact, this tomato won the 2005 “Heirloom Garden Show” for best-tasting tomato! And it’s also won various awards around the country for its unique flavor, texture, and overall quality.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

Carbons are known for their smokey and sweet flavor, with minimal acid.


These tomatoes are ideal for all recipes using tomatoes. Many folks use them for salsas and tomato sauces because of their taste, texture, and color qualities.

Eating raw

Carbon tomatoes are a great addition to sandwiches, burgers, and salads. Eaten raw, they are positively delicious with a bit of salt.

Plate of assorted heirloom tomato slices.

Canning/ Freezing/ Drying

With your extra tomatoes, you may want to preserve them. These handy guides will show you how to freeze, can, and dry your tomatoes.

Recipe Ideas

Pico de Gallo With Cabbage

Heirloom BLT With Pesto

Shrimp Melt With Capers

Southwest-Style Cobb Salad With Smoky Chipotle Dressing

Smoky Grilled Samon With Avocado and Tomato Salad

Closeup of a BLT sandwich.

Health Benefits of Carbon Tomatoes

Tomato has tons of fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamins K and C. They are also known to be some of the best natural sources of lycopene, a potent antioxidant researchers believe can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Where to Buy Carbon Tomato Plants or Seeds

You can purchase Carbon tomato seeds online at various retailers like Amazon. As for the plants, you should check with your local nurseries, as they are a popular variety.

Closeup of a tomato seed that has sprouted.

Where to Buy Carbon Tomatoes

Carbon tomato fruits will be a bit tougher to find in stores. Your best bet is to contact your local farmers market or check with nurseries. Sometimes local growers will leave word if they are growing certain varieties.

A Final Word on the Carbon Tomato

Closeup of dark reddish purple tomatoes in basket.

The deliciously sweet Carbon tomato is an incredibly plump, meaty, juicy tomato with a sweet, smokey flavor that growers from coast to coast have fallen in love with. Best of all, they are relatively easy to grow and maintain. If you’re looking for a purple heirloom variety for your next planting, give these fantastic tomatoes a try, you won’t regret it.

Have you grown Carbon tomatoes and have a tip to share? Leave it in the comments section below! To read about other delicious tomatoes, click this link for our tomato-related blog posts.