Unless you are planning on making ketchup, or canning a year’s supply of tomatoes, one pack of seedlings purchased in the spring is likely to provide you with all the tomatoes you want come fall. However, in order to enjoy a variety of tomatoes, I purchased four different kinds and three of the four our now ripening. The last, Brandywine, requires a longer season, and no fruit is yet ripe.
The remaining three varieties all have names that include “sweet”. Pictured above are Sweet Million, a popular cherry tomato. The plants are well-loaded with fruit and the little tomatoes are firm. They work well in salads, or as a snack.
These are Sweet Gold. One review I came across notes: “These tomatoes are naturally sweeter than red cherry varieties with a fruitier taste. Once you taste them, you’ll be spoiled forever.” Now that I have tasted them, I have to agree. The Sweet Golds are noticeably sweeter than the Sweet Million tomatoes, and juicier. Perhaps because of this last feature, they are also more prone to splitting that the Sweet Millions, making them a bit less attractive. Their orangey-gold colour makes them a nice accent to add to a plate of sliced red tomatoes.
Ultrasweet produces nice, medium-sized fruit. The tomatoes have a very nice, sweet flavour and good texture and I prefer them to locally-grown tomatoes I purchased at the market. The tomatoes do seem prone to developing concentric cracking around the stem end. According to Carolyn Male, concentric cracking is a genetic characteristic and can’t be prevented.
A few tomatoes have also had longitudinal cracking. Ms. Male notes that when ripe tomatoes split from top to bottom it usually indicates heavy rains or overwatering. The skin of the mature tomato can’t expand any more in response to the absorption of water, so the skin splits open. We certainly have not lacked for rain this summer.
If you start your own seeds in the spring, the sky is the limit when it comes to tomato varieties. Greta’s Organic Gardens, in the Ottawa area, offers some 200 varieties of tomato seeds! I’ve never done much seed-starting myself, but in the dark days of winter, it is lovely to browse through the pages of seed catalogues and garden books. A very enjoyable book for browsing on tomatoes is Carolyn Male’s 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden.