WINNERS & LOSERS
1 ‘GARDENER’S DELIGHT’
This open-pollinated, red cherry tomato took 21 weeks from seed to harvest and had both the longest fruiting period (22 weeks) and the best yields by weight for its category. Individual fruit averaged 21.6g each. The plants were the tallest (2.42m) and most vigorous. Organic seeds are available from Kings Seeds.
2 ‘ SWEET 100’
When beginner gardeners ask me for tomato variety recommendations, I always suggest they start with ‘Sweet 100‘ – and my experience growing this popular hybrid was confirmed by the trial at the Botanic Gardens. I‘ve never had a crop failure with this vigorous, easy-care, prolific cropper. In fact, the only niggle I have with ‘Sweet 100‘ is that if you plant grafted plants, you‘ll never be able to keep up with picking and eating them all!
In the Botanic Gardens‘ trial, ‘Sweet 100‘ came second only to ‘Gardener‘s Delight‘ for yield (not surprising given that its fruit are about half the size), but it had a slightly higher Brix level, which means it tastes sweeter. It took 21 weeks to harvest and continued cropping for 19 weeks on plants up to 2.43m high. ‘Sweet 100‘ is widely available as either seed or potted plants.
Fancy something other than red cherry tomatoes? This F1 hybrid had a respectable haul of small (10.3g) golden fruit over a very long period of 21 weeks. It took the 1.85m tall plants 20 weeks from seed to harvest.
4 ‘SWEET GOLD’
Managing only a 50% pass mark,
this F1 hybrid golden cherry tomato took 19 weeks to harvest and continued cropping for 19 weeks, with fruit averaging 13.6g each. The plants grew 2.25m high.
5 ‘GOLDEN NUGGET’
Not worth the effort. This open pollinated golden cherry tomato was quick to crop, taking only 19 weeks, but didn‘t last the distance, fruiting for only 12 weeks. (Compare that to the 22 weeks of ‘Gardener‘s Delight‘.) Individual fruit weighed an average of 11.4g each.
6 ‘EARLY MONEY’
Of the medium-fruited varieties,
‘Early Money’ had the highest yield by weight, plus (along with ‘Juliet’) had slightly higher Brix levels, indicating higher sugar levels. This F1 hybrid took 22 weeks to harvest and cropped for 18 weeks, with meaty fruit weighing 124.9g on average, on plants 2.1m tall.
7 ‘CHEF’S CHOICE ORANGE’
Of the five medium-fruited varieties in the trial, ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ had the largest and heaviest fruit, weighing in at 131g each on average. (And, as a bonus, studies by the New Zealand Heritage Food Crops Research Trust have shown that orange tomatoes are richer in health-giving lycopene too.) This hybrid variety took 22 weeks to harvest and the 2.03m tall plants fruited well for 19 weeks.
The tallest and most vigorous of the medium-sized tomatoes, ‘Juliet’ grew to 2.13m. This F1 hybrid took 20 weeks to harvest but once she started cropping, there was no stopping her, with a very long fruiting period of 21 weeks. The fruit weighed 28.9g on average and recorded high Brix levels.
9 ‘MONEY MAKER’
An old-time F1 hybrid. The plants were shorter than most of their compatriots, growing only to 1.73m high, and took longer to crop (22 weeks). Fruit was picked for 19 weeks and weighed 59.5g on average.
10 ‘ ROMA’
This Mediterranean paste
tomato struggles down under. I don‘t know anyone, including commercial growers with all the tricks of the trade at their disposal, who rates it here. Though long fruiting (21 weeks) in this trial, it was neither high yielding nor prolific, with fruit averaging 62.7g on short (1.57m) plants.
11 ‘ COUNTRY TASTE’
With large red fruit, this F1 hybrid produced the highest yield by weight, with individual fruit averaging 158.2g. The plants grew to 2.2m tall and cropped for 19 weeks. It fell just shy of the 8/10 rating it needed to make the cut as a star performer in Auckland.
12 ‘ BEEF MAESTRO’
An F1 hybrid with large fruit
weighing 111g on average. Slow off the mark (it took 23 weeks from seed for the first fruit to ripen), the plants grew 1.88m tall and cropped for 19 weeks. A middle-of-the-road tomato.
13 ‘MARRIAGE BIG BRANDY’
Although this chubby variety had the heaviest individual fruit of any variety in the trial, it soon ran out of a puff, with a pathetically short fruiting period of just nine weeks. And given that this tall (2.1m), large-fruited (168.2g) hybrid with heirloom genes took 23 weeks to harvest, it simply wasn‘t worth the wait.