Are you longing for the taste of fresh homegrown tomatoes? The fastest way to make that a reality is to grow cherry tomatoes. The small fruits are the first to ripen, and the plants continue to pump out fruits all summer long. Some years, delicious Sun Gold tomatoes can still be harvested in November!

cherry tomato basket - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffCherry tomatoes need the least heat and sun of all the varieties so if you garden in marginal tomato growing areas of the Bay, these may still be possible. Sun Gold F1 hybrid is a good bet to try as it can take less sun and still produce tasty fruits. Because it’s so easy to pick and pop these sweet treats directly into your mouth they are popular with children, gardeners, visitors on the way to your front door, letter carriers and many a bad dog.

One important thing to know about indeterminate hybrid cherry varieties like Sun Gold and Super Sweet 100 is while their fruits are small, healthy plants can end up becoming huge. (One customer came in to the nursery with a photo of a 14-foot-tall specimen) While that means lots and lots of fruit to eat, it can also mean half of your raised bed is taken over by one plant. Remember, you can tame it by pruning. If you have a small garden or plant in containers, try a determinate (bush) variety because with regular care they can flourish in a 10-gallon pot. Cage and stake all your plants for health and the easiest access to the fruit.

Finally, be sure to leave a lot of space between plants—good airflow in and around the foliage is key to managing powdery mildew and other diseases.

Here are a few interesting cherry tomato varieties to try this year:

Blush — Bred locally by Fred Hempel of Artisan Seeds, the striped yellow, orange and red elongated fruit is beautiful. The sweet and tangy flavor is absolutely tropical. Indeterminate.

Black Cherry — While it comes in a small package, this beauty tastes like the full size black heirlooms do with a sweet smoky flavor. Indeterminate.

Gold Nugget — This compact plant grows 2-3 feet tall and produces beautiful, sweet golden yellow fruits early and often. Try this heirloom variety in a container. Determinate.

–Helen (one of the tomato gals)