- Author: Erin Mahaney
I live in an area of Benicia where it is too windy and cool to grow larger tomatoes. And in the past three years, I haven’t even had much success with smaller, early ripening, tomatoes other than cherry tomatoes. I’ve tried planting in containers, planting in the ground, planting early, planting late, and planting every time in between, without much luck. The tomatoes would set fruit just fine, but then wouldn’t ripen.
So this year, I resigned myself to growing cherry tomatoes. I love ''Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, and they do well in my yard, but I haven’t found a red cherry that I like. Nonetheless, I made the boring, but practical, decision to plant a red cherry tomato so that at least I would have a variety of tomato colors in my salads.
But then I wandered by the vegetable vendor at the San Francisco Flower and Garden show and I couldn’t resist trying a few early varieties. Much to my surprise, one variety really took off – 'Tigerella'. 'Tigerella' is a small (1-2”), bi-colored, early (55 days) tomato. The fruit is red with orange stripes and has a wonderful sweet flavor. My new favorite! I heartily recommend it to others with the similar difficult growing conditions.
I also planted my usual Sun Golds and a new variety of red cherry tomato (yawn) and didn’t pay much more attention until I wandered by the red cherry tomato plant one day in mid-July. Much to my surprise, my “cherry” tomato plant was bearing an enormous beefsteak tomato! The plant had obviously been mislabeled. The first tomato I picked weighed in at 1 lb, 6-5/8 oz. Not bad for a “ cherry tomato!”
Who knows why this summer, which seems like a cool one to me, of all summers, my tomato plants are so happy. And that’s the fun of gardening – there is always a surprise awaiting!