Words: Graham Rice
Whether grown outside or in a cold greenhouse, cherry tomatoes are among the most popular and tastiest of home grown vegetables. Even children will eat a sweet and nutritious cherry tomato.
Since 1993, experts at the RHS have been selecting the very best for the accolade of Award of Garden Merit. You can be sure that these ten varieties, tested in this latest RHS trial, will provide both generous crops and good flavour. I’ve included the Brix measurement of sweetness where known; the higher the rating the sweeter the fruit.
For an unheated tunnel or glasshouse, this cherry tomato is one of the most dependable producers. The fruits mature early, weigh in at 15g each, and are unusually uniform in size along the truss. The plant is also resistant to wilt and some strains of mosaic virus. The good balance of sweetness (Brix rating 7.1) and acidity creates an overall excellent flavour that was praised by chef Raymond Blanc.
More plum-shaped than cherry-shaped, and best grown in a cold greenhouse or tunnel. The flavour of the rich-red ‘Apero’ is superb with a medium to high sugar content (Brix rating: 9.5). Each plant produced an average of 135 ripe fruits, with around 21 fruits per truss, each weighing about 18.7g. Plants are strong and vigorous, with an open habit which makes the fruit easier to pick, and are resistant to mosaic virus, root knot eelworm and several other problems.
Fruits grown are almost perfectly round but are on the small side, averaging 13.3g each. They are however resistant to diseases such as wilt, mosiac virus, and also unusually resistant to splitting. Each plant produced about 120 fruits, with 22 tomatoes in each truss. It is best known of the orange coloured tomatoes with a good flavour (Brix rating 9.3).
This slightly oval-shaped, red cherry tomato is bright and shiny. Whether outdoors, in a cold greenhouse or tunnel, ‘Favorita’ is naturally disease resistance especially to leaf mould that can be so destructive in greenhouses and tunnels. There are an average of 123 fruits per plant, carried in long trusses of about 25, each weighing an average of 21.2g. The Brix rating is 8.8. The judge's comments: “High yield of attractive, round/oval fruits. Very sweet flavour.”
The dark red fruits of ‘Cherrola’ are a wide and long. Plants produced an average of 157 ripe fruits, around 27 fruits per truss with each fruit weighing in at an average of 18g. Their Brix rating was 9.0. Colin Randel, chair of the RHS Vegetable Trials Subcommittee, which assessed the trial said: “I was amazed at how vigorous the plants were, each producing extremely long trusses”
This tomato is more plum-shaped than a cherry-shaped. On average 143 shiny, bright red fruits were produced on each plant, with about 24 trusses each weighing 15.5g. With a Brix rating of 10.5, this is the sweetest of all the AGM winners in this trial.
The fruits cropped from 'Gardener's Delight' are a little larger than other cherry tomatoes, each weighing an average of 28g and up to 14 fruits per truss. Expect about 75 fruits per outdoor plant. It is not as sweet as other cultivars (Brix rating: 7.0) but is acknowledged as being a tasty tomato with a skin that is not too chewy.
The almost perfectly spherical fruits of ‘Sakura’ are on the large side for a cherry tomato, weighing in at an average of 22.3g each. On average 165 fruits were produced with 37 fruits in each truss, making it a noticeably prolific cherry tomato plant. The Brix rating was 8.8. Well suited for growing outside, in a cold greenhouse, or tunnel.
This cherry tomato produces vivid, bright yellow, perfectly round fruits which average 3cm in diameter. It is not one of the heaviest croppers, but it carries an average of 52 fruits per truss (an amazing amount), with each fruit weighing between 12-16g. The good balance of sweetness and acidity makes up the fine flavour, and skin of the tomato is not too chewy. ‘Sun Baby’ is a good choice for outdoors or a cold greenhouse or tunnel.
The fruits from this plant ripen early and mature in a slightly flattened shape. The plants produced an average of 126 fruits, each weighing approximately 20.9g each, with 31 fruits per truss. Brix rating is 9.2. It is generally more successful in a cold greenhouse, or in a sheltered and sunny place outside, rather than in an open garden.