The Dirt

My Must-Have Tomato

Photo/Illustration: Steve Aitken
Photo/Illustration: Steve Aitken

Everyone who grows tomatoes has one that they plant year after year. I haven’t grown tons of tomatoes (‘Early Girl’, ‘Brandywine’, ‘Yellow Pear’, come to mind), but the one I will always grow is ‘Sun Gold’.

My reasons are simple. It is easy to grow and produces tons of fruit. My wife loves the sweet taste, and I think she thinks it is my gardening skill that does the trick. This past year, however, I didn’t eat many. My son, 14- to 16-months-old this summer, was inordinately fond of ‘Sun Gold’, we discovered. Add this to the fact that he had just learned to say “more” and that he looks cute when he says it, and you will understand why he got every cherry tomato he could stuff into his mouth. And that’s a lot.

So this year I will grow ‘Sun Gold’ for Evan.

I would love to hear what everyone else’s must-have tomato is.

Here are some I already know:

‘Amish Paste’ (David Cavagnaro, garden photographer extraordinaire)

‘German Pink’ (Diane Ott Whealy, founder of Seed Savers Exchange)

‘Rose’ (Danielle Sherry, Fine Gardening Associate Editor)



View Comments


  1. ChrisMcLaughlin 01/18/2010

    Steve: I agree - Sun Gold is fantabulous! We've been growing it ever since we discovered it about 13 years ago.
    Another absolutely delicious tomato is a Russian one called 'Caspian Pink'. SUPER flavor!

  2. WesternGardener 01/18/2010

    Thanks for asking about my favorite topic--I love growing heirloom tomatoes. My garden wouldn't be complete without black tomatoes like Black Krim, Paul Robeson or Black Cherry. The sweet and tangy taste is complex and they look beautiful in salads.

  3. TheWriteGardener 01/18/2010

    Tom Wagner's 'Green zebra' and Fred Limbaugh's Pittsburgh 'Potato Top' are two of my favorite heirloom tomato varieties. I will also heartily agree with Steve about the sugary goodness of 'Sun Gold,' a cherry we grow yearly.

  4. v49dvs 01/19/2010

    I enjoy growing Cherry Tomatoes for my salads, you can just pop them in your mouth anytime you like too!

    I also like Steak Tomatoes, so great on anything grilled!
    or You can just slice them up and serve them with any summer dish.

    During the Summer months I love to make homemade Hot Salsa!

    My Mom makes a real good corn relish, which she lets one of
    the local shops sell out of her shop. When people try my Mom's corn relish they just keep coming back for more.

    Mom and Dad have a green thumb and they taught me how to garden at a very young age.

  5. Ruth 01/19/2010

    So many tomatoes, so little space. Sun Gold is a mainstay at my place, too. It's generally the first to ripen and it continues to produce well into fall. Other favorites are Amish Paste, Linguisa, Jaune Flammée, Juliet, and Black Prince (just to name a few).

  6. user-7006880 01/25/2010

    Yellow Pear is awesome...a definite 'must have' in my garden. Mine gets to be a little over 6 1/2' tall each year! I also absolutely love Lemon Boy...meaty...relatively few seeds...prolific! Survives these hot Maryland summers perfectly!

  7. wilderness1989 01/25/2010

    SUN SUGAR is the sweetest I have found in the 50 years I've grown tomatoes. I'm getting older and can't get around like I once did when I'd grow 20+ tomato plants a year. So it's containers on the patio now and all I grow is SUN SUGAR it's a hybrid, earlier in my life I concentrated on Heirloom varieties.

  8. ploppyc 01/25/2010

    I was given a Nyagous plant last year, and it was far and away the best tomato I have grown in my zone 4 challenged climate - though I'd grow it anywhere. It's a delicious, prolific, small dark purple tomato. I like Sun Sugar too, but this is quite a bit bigger - good for slicing or wedging.

  9. KarenBudnick 01/25/2010

    Steve: Sun Gold is great if you like a mild tomato flavor. I grow tomatoes for exactly the opposite reason - I want a tangy, acidy (is that a word?) flavor. To me, summer tastes like a large slab of "Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter" on a cheeseburger hot off the grill. Each of mine were over a pound last summer and blight-free.

  10. paperart 01/26/2010

    I love "Big Rainbow" it's big & sweet and the color is beautiful!

  11. JohnLowe 01/26/2010

    My favorite from last year, which did very well in a container, is Green Zebra, excellent taste and unusual appearance. As far as cherry tomatoes, Super Sweet 100 provided a fantastic yield and great flavor.

  12. joandud 01/27/2010

    Sweet Baby Girl is my all time favorite. It's a delightful cherry tomato that is sweeter than any I've tasted. For late season I choose Park's Whopper. It's healthy, productive and tasty.

  13. betty413 02/03/2010

    We've grown many, many varieties of tomatoes in our Midwest garden and always come back to Better Boys. They've been the mainstay of our crop for years and years, we always try a couple new ones each year, but look forward to those Better Boys. We start our tomatoes from seed in early March under the grow lights, this year we're planting a Brandy Boy - such good taste, a Goldman's Italian-American and the Better Boys.

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