Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

March 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM Leave a comment

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

In Focus: Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

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Without a doubt, Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are a must-grow. They are the eat-them-with-abandon-and-without-guilt candy of the garden. When we trialed them here years ago, we placed a large bowl of the glistening orange orbs in our break room. Within minutes~they were gone~and we were all addicted. Each year now, we plant Sungold Cherry Tomatoes around the canopy over our break area so we can all snack at will over the summer.

Apricot-Orange Bon-Bons

Coveted Sungold was an amazing breakthrough by a Japanese breeder in the early 1990’s. There still isn’t a variety that comes close to its flavor, beauty and long-lasting production. These exquisite little gems ripen from green to dark gold, but are not fully mature until they turn pale apricot-orange. Watch carefully for the subtle color change, then savor the intensified taste: uniquely rich and sugary, with a hint of tropical fruitiness. A dozen or more 1” Tomatoes are attached to each draping limb-like truss, borne on indeterminate vines that grow up to 5 feet tall. A bit slow at first, Sungold yields a non-stop bounty until the first frost. It even has good disease tolerance (resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts, tobacco mosaic virus and nematodes). What more could you ever ask of a little cherry Tomato?

Growing Sungolds from Seed

Like all Tomatoes, Sungold is easy to grow from seed. Sow the seeds indoors, six to eight weeks before the last spring frost date in your area. (You can also refer to our Seed Starting Schedules.) Plant them in sterile seed starting mix and provide a little extra warmth (75 degree F soil temperature) to aid germination. Once the plants are up, they need 15 to 16 hours of bright light each day. It’s best to grow your Tomato seedlings under fluorescent lights, not on a windowsill. Plants grown on a windowsill get leggy and flop over as they stretch for light since normal daylight length and intensity is rarely sufficient no matter how bright the spot. Fertilize lightly and increase the pot size as needed. As the last frost date for your area approaches, begin hardening off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to a sheltered outdoor location for a few hours each day. Prepare a planting bed, in full sunlight, adding compost or well-rotted manure and some all purpose fertilizer as necessary. Once all danger of frost has passed, transplant the seedlings into the prepared bed, burying them one leaf deeper than initially grown. If possible, provide some protection from wind and hot sun for the first couple weeks. Sungold is an indeterminate variety, meaning its vines will continue growing taller and taller, right to the end of the season. It is smart to provide early structural support so that you can help train its soon-to-be heavily laden branches. Feed your Tomatoes monthly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer and keep them well watered. Soaking the soil and keeping the leaves dry will minimize disease problems. In a nutshell, Tomatoes dislike cold, wet weather and love moderate heat, water, food, neutral to slightly acidic soil and comforting support for their delicious fruits.

But Wait, There’s More…

Check out our full line of small-type, pop-them-in-your-mouth Tomatoes including Super Sweet 100, Black Cherry and Sugar Pearl Cherry Tomatoes; Sweet Cluster Tomatoes; and Juliet, Red Jelly Bean and Yellow Jelly Bean Grape Tomatoes. They are each delectable mouthfuls of sweet, sunny summer goodness in varying colors and shapes. For a summer terrace party, they are gorgeous mixed together in a bowl or served on little bamboo skewers like strands of jewel-toned lollipops. (We also have Red Currant Tomatoes, a more tart, minuscule heirloom, and Orange Pixie Large Cherry Tomatoes and Red & Yellow Pear Tomatoes).

The Yummiest Ever

Sungold Tomatoes are so perfect straight off the vine, popped into your mouth, that it feels sacrilegious to suggest using them in a recipe. Whole or cut in half, Sungolds add more sweet taste to salads than any other Tomato. One of the best salads you’ll ever eat is a Sungold solo: halved Tomatoes tossed with a light but rich buttermilk blue cheese dressing. Speared on cocktail picks, Sungolds are terrific dunked in yogurt and sour cream dips of any flavor. And shine they do as a bright note in numerous recipes. The little orbs are a quick and easy addition to fresh pasta sauces: sauté Garlic and Onions in olive oil until translucent, throw in a generous quantity of Sungolds and stir for 2 minutes. Add fresh baby Spinach leaves, stirring until just wilted, and pour in some chicken broth. Sprinkle in crushed red pepper flakes to taste, and simmer until the tomatoes start to burst and the liquid reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, toss in just-cooked and drained penne pasta, shower with freshly-grated Parmesan and top with ribbons of Basil. (You can also add grilled shrimp and a splash of heavy cream for a weekend recipe upgrade. Or switch it up with harvest-mates Corn and/or Zucchini.) Sungolds are incredible roasted: lightly coat them in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper and spread them out in a roasting pan in a 400 degree F oven for 15 or 20 minutes, gently turning them around half way through. The concentrated Sungold essence is a staggering taste explosion in sauces, soups, dips, sandwich spreads, crostini toppings and Sunday morning adult beverages. Once roasted, you can also freeze them for winter pick me-ups when the mere thought of a summer Tomato could melt a snowman. You could also stuff the little jewels with cheese mixtures, but we think it is a bit like gilding a lily.

We share our best-of-the-best recipes so you can feed your family and friends well without feeling frenzied, and practical, hands-on horticultural tips to demystify gardening with seeds (it need not be tricky or difficult. Truth be told, it is a bit more like easy magic.) If you need help with anything, our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can email us at or call us at (860) 567-6086. Lance Frazon, our seed specialist, is happy to help you in any way possible. He loves to talk seeds.

-To see our seed collection click: Flowers, gourmet fruits & vegetables and aromatic herbs.

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-To look at our yummy recipes, like Nora Pouillon’s Saffron Fettuccine with Ten Kinds of Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil & Balsamic Vinegar, click: Recipes.

-Or, call us at (860) 567-6086: we will help you in any way we can!

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Entry filed under: Good Eating!, Green Information.

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