It’s difficult to beat a Sun Gold cherry tomato plant for sheer numbers of beautifully colored, sweetly flavored fruit. They are excellent producers here in Zone 7a and can be counted on to yield the first and last ripe tomatoes out of the garden in a given season. The drawback is that they reliably get super splitty during the late summer months when we have torrential rains. I always plant them deeply and mulch them to moderate the fluctuations in moisture and prevent cracking, but it never seems to eliminate the problem in this cultivar. Hoping to find something new and interesting, I looked at several different types of cherry tomatoes this year, but, due to pandemic-induced seed shortages, I was limited to the cultivars that were available locally as plants. I was able to find Indigo Cherry Drop and Sun Gold, so in to the garden went one of each plant.
Last year I planted a single plot with a Sun Gold and a Sweet 100 adjacent to one another caged in five-foot-tall tomato towers. The plants grew and produced right up until the first frost, spilling out of the tops of the cages and reaching the ground only to crawl across the adjacent plot, dropping their fruit all over the ground. The metal supports bent, a few failed completely under the weight, and harvesting was difficult at best. I also lost a lot of fruit to the chipmunks who took advantage of their proximity to the vines on the ground.
I’m trying something new this year for supporting the sprawling plants, or, rather, I’m returning to something old: the Florida weave. It’s not the prettiest of supports, but, in contrast to the store-bought metal cages that have not typically performed well with the indeterminate vines I prefer, it gets the job done.
The Indigo thrived for a few weeks, produced about 20 red-purple tomatoes for me, then unceremoniously dried up and died when the temperatures rose regularly into the 90s. The same scenario occurred in 2020, but I planted another this spring hoping last year’s experience was an exception. I won’t plant the cultivar again.
The Sun Gold, in contrast, has already taken over the real estate vacated by its deceased neighbor and is producing great numbers of the largest tomatoes I have ever harvested from this variety. Whether it is the support structure, the increased space, the accumulation of composted material in the soil, all of the above, or some other factor, I cannot say. The tomato vine looks like a miniature espaliered fruit tree to me. We will see soon if the posts are tall enough, or if the plant will escape my efforts and take over the yard.
The recent heavy rains split the ripening fruit, as I expected, but the damaged tomatoes have been the exception. I am also curious if the fruit size and quality will remain constant through the fall. I’ll keep reading about other cultivars of cherry tomatoes, just in case.