WIN­NERS & LOSERS

NZ Gardener - - The Good Life -

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.

3 ‘SUN­GOLD’

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.

8 ‘JULIET’

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.

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