Kitchen Garden Seeds

The Sweet Sungold and Sungreen Siblings

It's hard for us to remember a summer without the sweet joy of Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. They epitomize the luscious, sweet warmth of the sun and the carefree abandon with which we can eat simply and deliciously from the garden. Having long ago admitted our unabashed Sungold junkie status, you won't be surprised to learn that our addiction has spread to her sister, Sungreen.

A member of the nightshade Solanaceae family, the Tomato's botanical name is Solanum lycopersicum. Although it's really a fruit, the Tomato is usually treated as a vegetable in the kitchen. Originating in South and Central America, culinary historians have dated the Tomato back to 500 BC in Mexico after which it appeared in Italy and England in the mid and late 16th century, and finally to North America in the early 18th century. Tomatoes are not only beautiful and delicious, they are intrinsically good for us. Tomatoes are high in Vitamins C, A and carotene lycopene, known to be one of the most potent of natural antioxidants. Harvested Tomatoes should be stored unwashed at room temperature and out of direct sunlight, never in the refrigerator since cold temperatures degrade flavor enzymes. Store Tomatoes in a paper bag to enhance the ripening process if necessary.

Supreme Garden Bon-Bons
Amazing hybridization breakthroughs by a renown Japanese breeder, Sungold and Sungreen have unparalleled tropical fruity flavor, beauty, intense Brix sweetness and long-lasting productivity. Sungold ripens from green to dark gold, and matures fully to pale apricot-orange. Sungreen is lime-green and subtly matures to greenish-yellow. We watch them like hawks and await anxiously the subtle color change so we can begin our favorite summer grazing.

A dozen or more 1" fruits are attached to each draping, limb-like truss, borne on indeterminate vines that grow up to 5 feet tall. A bit slow at first, Sungold and Sungreen yield non-stop, luscious bounty until the first fall frost. They even have good disease tolerance: they're resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts, tobacco mosaic virus and nematodes. Sought-after Sungolds may be included in farmers' market samplers, Sungreens are much more rare, but why take the chance of being deprived of their sublime goodness when they are so easy to grow yourself?

So Easy to Grow from Seed
Like all Tomatoes, Sungold and Sungreen are easy to grow from seed. Because they take about 65 days to harvest, Sungold and Sungreen seed is best started indoors under lights or in a greenhouse. Sow the seed in moist, sterile seed starting mix six to eight weeks before your spring Frost-Free Date. The bottom warmth of a seed starting mat (up to 75 degrees F) will help speed germination in six to 15 days. Once the seeds have sprouted, give them 12 to 15 hours of bright light each day; moderate, even moisture and good ventilation. (Plants grown on a windowsill get leggy and flop over as they stretch for the light: normal daylight length and intensity is insufficient no matter how bright the spot.) Water only as needed by soaking the entire root ball. Once the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, transplant the strongest seedlings into 4-inch pots and begin feeding them weekly with half-strength liquid fertilizer.

Before transplanting your cherished Sungold and Sungreen seedlings into the garden, harden them off by putting them outdoors in a sheltered location for a few hours each day and bringing them in at night. Do this for a week to 10 days, gradually lengthening the time outdoors. This will help them to avoid transplant shock and to thrive. No matter how warm you think it may be, hold off transplanting them until after your spring Frost-Free Date and night time temperatures are reliably above 55 degrees F. (To find the Frost-Free Date for your garden, go HERE and use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chart. Select your State from the pull down menu and then select the local NOAA data collection site closest to your garden from the PDF file.)

Tomatoes need all-day sun and warmth, nutritious soil and consistent watering. Transplant the seedlings in fertile, well-draining, neutral to slightly acidic soil, to which you have added compost, well-rotted manure and/or slow-release organic fertilizer. Space the seedlings 24" to 30" apart in rows that are 36" apart. Large plants may be buried one or two leaves deeper than initially grown. Water moderately after planting and apply a 2" layer of mulch to help conserve moisture later on. Sungold and Sungreen are indeterminate varieties. This means that their vines will continue growing taller and taller, right to the end of the season. Put structural supports in place when you plant your seedlings to avoid root or plant disturbance later. You can help train their soon-to-be-heavily laden branches on the supports as they grow. (If possible, provide some protection from wind and scorching sunlight with floating row covers for the first couple of weeks.) Feed Tomatoes monthly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer and keep them well-watered by soaking the soil and keeping the leaves dry to minimize the potential for disease. In a nutshell, Tomatoes dislike cold, wet weather and love warmth, water, food and comforting support for their delicious fruits. Tip: You can make the best Tomato supports by using wide gauge (4" openings) wire fencing to create 6-foot tall cylindrical tubes.

As a member of the nightshade family, Tomatoes have a small amount of the toxins tomatine and solanine in their stems and foliage so don't let little children or animals munch on their leaves if they are so inclined. Discard all foliage and stems: do not use as compost.

But Wait, There’s More…
Check out our full line of small-type, pop-them-in-your-mouth Tomatoes, including the new head-turner~Indigo Rose, Super Sweet 100, Black Cherry and Sugar Pearl Cherry Tomatoes; and Juliet, Red Jelly Bean and Yellow Jelly Bean Grape Tomatoes. They are each delectable mouthfuls of sweet, sunny summer goodness in varying colors and shapes. For a summer terrace party, they are gorgeous mixed together in a bowl or served on little bamboo skewers like strands of jewel-toned lollipops. We also have Red Currant Tomatoes, a more tart, minuscule heirloom, Orange Pixie Large Cherry Tomatoes and Red & Yellow Pear Tomatoes.

The Yummiest Ever
Sungold and Sungreen Cherry Tomatoes are so perfect straight off the vine, popped into your mouth, that it almost feels sacrilegious to suggest using them in a recipe. They are the true candy of the garden. Whole or cut in half, they add more sweet taste to salads than any other Tomato. One of the best salads you’ll ever eat is a Sungold solo: halved Tomatoes tossed with a light, but rich buttermilk blue cheese dressing. Speared on cocktail picks, Sungolds are terrific dunked in yogurt and sour cream dips of any flavor.

Yet shine they do as a bright note in numerous recipes. The little orbs are a quick and easy addition to fresh pasta sauces: sauté Garlic and Onions in olive oil until translucent, throw in a generous quantity of Sungolds and Sungreens and stir for 2 minutes. Add fresh baby Spinach leaves, stirring until just wilted, and pour in some chicken broth. Sprinkle in crushed red pepper flakes to taste, and simmer until the tomatoes start to burst and the liquid reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, toss in just-cooked and drained penne pasta, shower with freshly-grated Parmesan and top with ribbons of Basil. (You can also add grilled shrimp and a splash of heavy cream for a weekend recipe upgrade. Or switch it up with harvest-mates Corn and/or Zucchini.)

Sungolds and Sungreens are incredible roasted too: lightly coat them in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper and spread them out in a roasting pan in a 400 degree F oven for 15 or 20 minutes, gently turning them around half way through. The concentrated essence of these garden bon-bons are a staggering taste explosion in sauces, soups, dips, sandwich spreads, crostini toppings and Sunday morning adult beverages. Once roasted, you can also freeze them for winter pick me-ups when the mere thought of a summer Tomato could melt a snowman. You could also stuff the little jewels with cheese mixtures, but we think it is a bit like gilding a lily.