Nancy’s Tomato Chronicles – Week 15 of 2010
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are a must-grow in my garden. They are the eat-them-with-abandon-and-without-guilt candy of the garden. They have been a favorite in my house for almost 20 years. These coveted Sun Gold tomatoes were an amazing breakthrough by a Japanese breeder in the early 1990s. Just about that time I started growing Sungolds from seed sold by Thompson and Morgan. My late husband Hank would take a bag of Sungolds to work almost every day to serve as snacks for him and his colleagues. We grew them beside a fence that separated our house from the next-door neighbor. The plants grew so tall that our neighbor enjoyed as many Sungolds as we did.
There still isn’t a variety that comes close to its flavor, beauty and long-lasting production. This exquisite gem ripens from green to dark gold, but isn’t fully mature until it becomes pale apricot-orange. Watch carefully for the subtle color change, then savor the intensified taste: uniquely rich and sugary, with a hint of tropical fruitiness. Round 1” tomatoes attached to draping, symmetrical limb-like trusses, are borne on indeterminate vines growing to about 3’. A bit slow at first, it yields reliably non-stop until the first frost. And it has good disease tolerance (resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts, tobacco mosaic virus and nematodes). It is everything you could ever ask from a little cherry tomato.
Sungold Tomatoes are started easily from seed six to eight weeks prior to the last frost date in your area. Start them in sterile seed starting soil mixture with a bit of bottom heat to aid germination. Keep them in a warm, brightly lit, well-ventilated area. (Tomato seedlings need bright, strong light~regular windowsills are not bright enough and the plants will get leggy and flop over as they stretch for the light.) Fertilize lightly and increase the pot size as needed. After your last frost date, harden off the seedlings by gradually placing them outside for incrementally longer periods of time over the course of a week to ten days. Prepare fertile tomato beds in full sunlight with lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure. Transplant the seedlings into the prepared bed, burying them one leaf deeper than initially grown. Feed them occasionally as needed and keep them well-watered by soaking the soil and not the leaves~this helps to keep disease off of their leaf surfaces.
In part from KITCHEN GARDEN SEEDS.