Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
September, 2003
Regional Report

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These Sunsugar cherry tomatoes are the best I've ever eaten!

Love Those Cherry Tomatoes!

I know not everyone is a fan of cherry tomatoes, and I wasn't either until the last couple of years. I've tried just about every type on the market, from Sweet 100s to red currant to yellow pear. I even tried grape tomatoes last year, assuming they would be terrific. Well, they are terrific when you buy them at the grocery store in the winter when there is nothing else available. But they certainly don't compare to any real summer tomato. No variety I've tried satisfies me quite like my new favorite, Sunsugar.

I usually grow my own tomato transplants, but two years ago I had tomato seedling failures. This sent me to my local grower to purchase tomato plants. I always have several yellow and red pear volunteers come up, so cherry tomato transplants were not on my buying list, especially since I couldn't actually pinpoint any favorite variety. Quite by accident, I picked up a four-pack of Sunsugar cherry tomatoes. Now I'm hooked.

Sunsugar's Winning Traits
These tomatoes have the sweetest flavor of any cherry I've ever tasted. They also have other attributes that make them regulars in my garden. First of all, they don't crack unless we get buckets of rain (which we seldom do during tomato season). And, unlike others whose tough skins are bred not to crack, Sunsugar skins are delicate and tender.

Growing Techniques for Cherries
In my years of experimenting with cherries, I think I've finally found the best way to grow them. Most cherry tomato varieties are indeterminate, meaning that they continue to put out new growth and bear ripe fruits throughout the season until killed by frost. Because they keep growing taller, regular tomato cages will seldom contain them. They perform best if supported, and some gardeners even prune them to help manage the size of the plant.

I have built a large A-frame trellis that is about 6 feet tall. (The sides are actually 8 feet tall when standing straight up, but when leaning together they're only as tall as I can reach.) Since tomatoes need plenty of air circulation to prevent fungal diseases, I plant cherry tomatoes about 3 feet apart.

My trellis is laced with a windowpane of jute twine, making a nice resting net. I tie the tomato branches to the net periodically, training them to lie against it. I occasionally have to prune out a shoot that comes straight off the plant and won't be easily tied. The sun reaches most of the branches this way and I have an abundant harvest.

I actually grow pole beans on the other side of the A-frame, and my daughters love the shady bower beneath the trellis. They can even reach up and pluck warm, golden Sunsugar tomatoes for snacking.

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