2011 Small Tomato Gardening Trial

Every year I hedge my tomato-growing bets by planting both large and small tomatoes; heirloom and hybrids.

This was a good year to plant different kinds of tomatoes in the garden because it’s been an odd gardening season.

Many gardeners I’ve heard from are wondering why their tomatoes aren’t producing like they should.

We owe most of our problems to the unusual weather conditions we’ve experienced from a colder-than-usual spring, followed by drenching May rains, and then hot July weather. Tomatoes hate these kind of weather fluctuations. They prefer to grow under more moderate conditions.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a nice warm September into October so my big tomatoes will have the extra few weeks they need to finish growing.

Until then, I thought you might like to see the results of my small tomato trial. This year I grew five different varieties of small tomatoes, all from seed sent to me from seed companies or organizations.

The taste test is decidedly unscientific: two people standing in the kitchen tasting each tomato and giving our first impressions.

Lizzano is a 2011 All-America Selections vegetable award winner. This is a high-yielding semi-determinate tomato with a trailing habit. I have it growing in a large container on the patio and it was the first of all the tomatoes to produce fruit. The tomato has a bit of sweetness balanced with some tartness. It has good flavor and a medium-thick skin. It also has a nice aroma when cut.

Yellow Pear is an heirloom tomato and the seeds are from Bounty Beyond Belief. The yellow pear is growing in my garden bed. I’ve grown yellow pear many seasons and the weather this year has definitely affected its performance. It’s just not as productive as usual. However the tomatoes we tasted had a good flavor, less acidic than other tomatoes, with little sweetness. It also had the thinnest skin of this bunch.

Terenzo is another 2011 All-America Selections vegetable award winner. This is a high-yielding determinate tomato that could be grown in a hanging basket, but I planted it in a container on the patio. We thought Terenzo had the best taste, very sweet with a tart finish. Medium-tough skin.

Pomodoro is part of the Pagano Italian seed collection from Lake Valley Seeds. Pomodoro is planted in my container garden. It’s a very sturdy plant and the fruit is the largest of these small tomatoes. It has a tart and somewhat bold flavor, but not the rich taste I was expecting. Medium-tough skin.

Sweetie is an indeterminate grape-type tomato from Sakata Seed. This tomato has produced beautiful long vines in a container and right now it’s loaded with flowers. Sweetie certainly lives up to its name with a powerful sweet taste. It’s very dense for a small tomato.

Have you grown any small tomatoes you’d like to recommend? If so, please post them here. We’re always interested in hearing from you!


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