Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Cherry Tomato Champs

by Charlie Nardozzi

Remember when cherry tomatoes first started popping up in salad bars and restaurants across the country in the 1970s? Twenty years later, their popularity continues to grow, fueled by new introductions by tomato breeders and seed companies. With more and more cherry tomato varieties on the market, it's hard to know which are the best to grow.

To find out, last summer we recruited eight of our crack National Gardening test gardeners from around the country to trial six of the most popular red cherry tomato varieties -- 'Gardener's Delight', 'Large Red Cherry', 'Red Currant', 'Super Sweet 100', 'Sweet Chelsea' and 'Sweet Million' -- in their home gardens. The results of the trial are given below. And for gardeners who'd like to try one of the new yellow or gold cherry tomatoes, we've included our recommendations of the best varieties below.

Testing, Testing

We asked testers to grow all the varieties as they would their normal tomato crop and then rank each cherry tomato variety for plant vigor, disease resistance, ease of growing, cracking, quality, yield, overall performance and flavor. Cherry tomatoes are more closely related to their wild tomato kin than larger-fruited tomato varieties.

Perhaps for that reason, most varieties grew vigorously and had few problems, producing more than enough fruit for a small family. What set the varieties apart were the differences in flavor, size and susceptibility to cracking. In the end, it came down to how the tomato looked and tasted, and that's what NGA's testers used to decide the winners.

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