Cherry and grape tomatoes are rapidly growing in popularity among consumers. Small and sweet, they have a nice burst when you bite into them, making them perfect for snacking and salads. Plus, they hold their flavor and freshness longer than beefsteak tomatoes, which is helpful for the once-a-week grocery shopper.
“Smarty F1” is a compact indeterminate that produces fruit as early as 7 weeks after transplant and continues producing until frost. With resistance to verticillium wilt (1) and fusarium wilt (1, 2), it is a healthy and trouble free plant in most home gardens. It’s also productive: a single plant will produce on average about a pint of grape tomatoes daily that have a high brix and low cull rate, averaging 1/4 ounce each.
In short: lots of tomatoes that are very sweet and fruity, and few that have flaws like splitting.
Smarty (NC2 x NC3) is a “compact indeterminate hybrid homozygous for br and heterozygous for the rin gene” bred by Dr. Randy Gardner as part of the NCSU Tomato Breeding Program. Now retired, but still breeding tomatoes, Dr. Gardner has spent decades working on disease resistant tomatoes that perform well in North Carolina — and that means his varieties are a good bet for the rest of the southeast.
Although it is reported they can be grown without support, I don’t recommend it. Using 5′ tall cages made from concrete remesh, the Smarty plants just topped the height of the cages and bushed out beyond the cage diameter. They did not continue growing a long vine like most heirloom indeterminate tomatoes.
Otherwise the plants were trouble-free. I didn’t bother to remove suckers and the only pruning I did was to clear the branches up about 12″ off the ground. This pruning was perhaps unnecessary, as I did not see any signs of any fungal diseases at all on the plant, unlike the Paragon tomatoes in the next bed.
Low maintenance, productive and good flavor: it’s the trifecta of home gardener needs. This variety is definitely recommended. With the cost of a pint of grape tomatoes averaging $3.07 last month in the Southeast, if your household likes and eats grape tomatoes, a packet of seeds will pay for itself with the first pint.