Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tomato trial: Baxter's Bush Cherry

One of my trial tomatoes this year is Baxter’s Bush Cherry, the seed for which I picked off a Burpee seed rack last winter at Wal-Mart. I was attracted by the packet description that said this cherry tomato was extra early, determinate, with small, sweet fruits. The back of the packet indicated fruit would begin maturing 72 days after transplanting.

I transplanted two seedlings into our garden on May 30. I picked a ripe Baxter’s Bush Cherry tomato about 55 days later. At 64 days I was picking handfuls each day and then more than 80 in one day.

Extra early? Not really. From two or three plants of each variety, I had already picked more than a colander of Sungolds, a score or more of Juliets, 10 Big Beefs, some Yellow Plums, and four or five large Brandywines.

Curious about the extra-early claim, I checked the Burpee website. It seems to say Baxter’s Bush Cherry is early compared to other open-pollinated cherry tomatoes, but in the final summary of characteristics, the site describes this cherry as “mid-season.” Ok, I’ll go with a combo: “early mid-season.”

Determinate? The plants have vigor but topped out at about four feet. For gardeners who struggle with jungle-growth of Sweet 100s or Sungolds or have limited space, Baxter’s Bush Cherry might be a welcome relief.

Fruit hangs in attractive bunches. The round fruits are about 1.25”on average, with about a quarter measuring 1.5”. Burpee describes them by weight: 1 ounce. The fruit hasn’t split or cracked like Sweet 100 and Sungold have after rains.

I would not describe the fruit as sweet in the sense that Sweet 100s or Sungolds are, but Baxter’s Bush Cherry has a fresh, slightly sweet, tomato taste—a good snacker or muncher, to my way of thinking, for anyone not wanting to feel guilty about eating “sweets.”

The Burpee website says Baxter’s Bush Cherry has “remarkable weather tolerance” and “fruit set tolerance,” which is evidenced by my two plants this super-hot summer. My Brandywines, Big Beefs, and Biltmores haven’t set new fruit for weeks now, and I see small Baxter’s Bush Cherries still growing.

Burpee also claims Baxter’s Bush Cherry doesn’t need staking or caging. That I cannot verify because my narrow beds require that I stake all of my tomato plants. Not to stake would mean sprawl and crawl—for me, if not the plants, and I’m a generation beyond crawling to pick cherry tomatoes.

Organic gardeners will be pleased. This Burpee seed is “100% Certified Organic.”

Bottom line: I’m impressed by Baxter’s Bush Cherry tomato. If you want a munchable cherry and have a space for only one or two small plants that will continue setting fruit throughout the summer, consider trying Baxter’s Bush Cherry tomato.

If you tried a new tomato variety this year, please post a Comment telling us how it worked out for you.

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