‘Gardeners Delight' and ‘Sweet Chelsea' were my staple cherry tomatoes for several years, never disappointing and always ready to provide at least a pint or two of round, red fruit to pop into the mouth. However, my cherry-sized favourite is ‘Sungold' (F, T), a vine of manageable height and girth that produces round, tangerine-orange fruit with an intensely sweet, rich taste with hints of apricot. The dwarf, 45-centimetre-tall ‘Orange Pixie' also has these qualities and can be grown in a container. ‘Sungold' has 11 to 14 brix units (sweetness in fruits and vegetables is measured by sugar brix units) in each fruit. Most sweet cherry-type tomatoes measure 8 to 10 brix, keeping them slightly ahead of full-sized tomatoes, which are in the range of 6 to 8.
Plant the rainbow
It's no wonder tomatoes were grown as ornamental plants long before their fruits were considered edible. Well-tended tomato plants are beautiful specimens in a mixed border and can surprise you with unpredictable colours in the ripening season. Standard market tomatoes have yellow skin over red flesh, making a deep shade of scarlet comparable only to fire engines. Heirloom varieties offer a rainbow of colours, such as the pastel pink ‘Watermelon Beefsteak' and ‘Arkansas Traveler', the result of clear skin over red flesh. When yellow-skinned, red-fleshed tomatoes retain green pigment, the ripe fruit takes on maroon-purple and brown tones as seen in ‘Black Krim' and ‘Cherokee Purple'. Garden visitors find it hard to ignore ‘Taxi' (C), an amazing, caution-sign yellow, and striped beauties such as tangy ‘Green Zebra' (green streaked with yellow) and tropical-flavoured ‘Mr. Stripey' (red streaked with yellow). Next summer I might try some of the white tomatoes-‘White Wonder' (with fruit weighing up to one kilogram), ‘Great White' (with pineapple, melon and guava flavours) and the adorable cherry types, ‘Snow White' and ‘Ghost Cherry'.