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The Gardener’s Delight Tomato

If you’ve never heard of the Gardener’s Delight tomato, you’ll be glad to hear of it now!  This cherry tomato is beloved among amateur gardeners because it’s easy to grow.  Everyone else loves it because of the big heirloom tomato flavor in beautiful, compact-sized fruits.  Add to this the dependable high-yields year after year and it’s obvious why this tomato is the delight of gardeners.

Keep reading to learn about this tasty tomato — we’ll be surprised if you don’t plant one this spring!

Closeup of cherry tomatoes on plant similar to the Gardener's Delight tomato.

History of the Gardener’s Delight Tomato

The Gardener’s Delight tomato comes from Germany where it was originally named “Benary’s Gartenfreude, Hochzucht.” It has gone by a few other names such as “Jung’s Sugar Lump,” “Delice du Jardinier” (French for Gardener’s Delight) — but it’s most well-known as “Sugar Lump.”

For years the Gardener’s Delight was considered an heirloom until long-time growers noticed a change in the fruit produced from year to year.  The consensus is this variety was altered and doesn’t qualify as a heirloom (the same genetic seeds have to be produced for 50-100 years to have heirloom status).  Despite this, the Gardener’s Delight has been a staple in countless gardens year after year.

Characteristics of the Gardener’s Delight Tomato

The Gardener’s Delight is an indeterminate tomato that grows 6-8 feet high.  If grown in-ground, it needs staking, cages, or trellises. 

There’s flexibility in how to grow a Gardener’s Delight tomato.  The plant can be grown as pruned, trained vines or as a bush tomato.  It produces larger and earlier fruit when pinched and trained.

The main stalk of a Gardener’s Delight tomato grows thick and sturdy.  Some gardeners grow it in over-sized hanging containers without any support structure.

Regardless of how you grow it, Gardener’s Delight is a dependable tomato producing high yields each year.

A cherry tomato plant with red tomatoes.

Ripening Season

It’s an early-season tomato, with fruit maturing 65 days after transplanting.

Tomato Qualities

The tomato has smooth, red, glossy skin.  It’s juicy and medium-firm, with a pleasing taste and texture.  Despite being marketed as crack-resistant, the fruit crack — so you need to take steps to prevent it.

Tomato Size

At 3/4″ – 1 1/2″, it’s a large cherry tomato and weighs 1 ounce.

Closeup of three cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Planting Zones

There’s no information about the US hardiness zones the Gardener’s Delight tomato will grow in, but it should grow in zones most tomatoes are grown in.

Size and Spacing

Plant tomato seedlings deeply, with only the top 1-2 sets of leaves showing (after planting, pinch off the others). Moisten the soil prior to planting.

Plant tomatoes 24-36 inches apart with cages, stakes, or a trellis to support vines.

Pollination

Tomatoes are self-pollinating and need only natural pollinators like bees and wind to get the job done when planted outside.  In a greenhouse, gently shake the plant or tap each flower individually to pollinate the flowers.

Plant Care

The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes.

The Gardener’s Delight tomato is easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of soil and weather conditions.  But take note of the watering requirements section!

Woman planting tomatoes in the garden.

Sunlight

Tomatoes are full sun plants and need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.

Soil

Tomatoes thrive in soil that’s neutral (a pH between 6.0-6.5), well-draining, and amended with compost and decomposed manure to a depth of 24-36 inches. Adding crushed or ground eggshells to the soil helps prevent blossom end rot.

Water

The Gardener’s Delight tomato is drought-resistant and too much water causes the fruit to crack.  If rain is in the forecast, harvest ripe or nearly-ripe fruit before it hits.

A garden hose sprayer watering the base of a tomato plant.

Fertilizer

Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.

Pruning/Pinching

Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.

Disease 

All tomatoes are susceptible to diseases, so it’s a good idea to take precautions against the common diseases like blight, fusarium wilt, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium wilt, and Southern bacterial wilt. Keeping the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant and removing any foliage in contact with the soil are your best defenses against tomato plant disease.

To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide. 

Pests

Growing tomatoes means dealing with pests. Aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, slugs, pill bugs, stink bugs, and rodents are just a few to be on the lookout for. Companion plants like marigolds, catnip, fennel, dill, basil, and cilantro repel common tomato pests. Netting keeps out birds and larger pests, but may interfere with beneficial insects and pollinators.

For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

Closeup of a tomato hornworm and partially eaten green tomato.

When to Harvest Gardener’s Delight Tomatoes

If you sowed Gardener’s Delight seeds outdoors, fruit is ready for picking at the beginning of August.  If you started your seeds indoors or purchased starters to plant, check your tomatoes in late June for ripe fruit.

Gardener’s Delight tomatoes continue to ripen after picking and the plants produce until the first frost kills the vines.

Common Uses For Gardener’s Delight Tomatoes

Too small for sandwiches or burgers, Gardener’s Delight tomatoes can still be used in all sorts of recipes calling for fresh or cooked tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes on a table.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

With only a trace of acidity, the Gardener’s Delight is reportedly one of the sweetest tomato varieties — even sweeter than Sweet 100 tomato.

Cooking

Use these tomatoes in sauces, soups, stews, chili, casseroles, and grilled kabobs.

Closeup of a quiche made with tomatoes, herbs, and cheese.
Quiche with tomato, herbs, and cheese.

Eating Raw

These are ideal salad tomatoes and the small ones can be eaten by themselves or used for garnishes on entrees.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Gardener’s Delight tomatoes are reported as “very productive” (70-80 fruits per plant). These tomatoes do well for canning, freezing, and drying.

Recipe Ideas

Roasted Tomato Soup (roasting the fruit gives it a whole new depth of flavor)

Tiny Tomato Tarts

Easy and Addictive Tomato Chutney

If you’re still hungry for ideas: 59 Best Cherry Tomato Recipes

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They’re also an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes aren’t just delicious — they’re healthy too.

Closeup of bowl of diced tomatoes.

Where to Buy Gardener’s Delight Tomato Plants or Seeds

Gardener’s Delight seeds are available from online retailers like Burpee , Seeds Now, Totally Tomato, Amazon.

Where to Buy Gardener’s Delight Tomatoes

Since they’re not grown commercially here, Gardener’s Delight tomatoes aren’t found in US grocery produce departments.  The best way to find fresh ones is to visit farmers markets, contact specialty produce stores, or call nearby farms to ask if they grow them.

Wrapping Up the Gardener’s Delight Tomato

Closeup of cluster of cherry tomatoes on the vine.

An easy-to-grow tomato that produces a reliable crop of fruit with a flavor normally only found in larger tomato varieties?  It’s obvious why this is called the Gardener’s Delight tomato!  With it’s versatility of growing methods, it’s a tomato that fits into nearly every garden imaginable.

Are you one of the many fans who grow Gardener’s Delight tomatoes in their gardens? Let us know how they do for you in the comments section below! To read about other tomato varieties, click here for our tomato blog posts.