I purchased two Aztec gold tomato plants at the annual Master Gardeners plant sale on May 5, 2018. The identifying tag indicated they were slightly larger than cherry tomatoes and smaller than the Roma tomato. Never having tasted gold tomatoes before, I thought, “Why not? I will give it a go.”
I planted them next to some green peppers and other tomato varieties. I thought they would be tall and bushy. Some of the literature said they grow to 10 feet tall. Nope, not mine. They are short and dense. The fruit is tightly packed in groups of 10 to 15 tomatoes on long stems tightly hugging the plant while the tomato plant itself hunkers down close to the ground. The tomato cage was larger than the tomato plant.
What they lack in height, though, they make up in taste. They are sweet, not tart or acidic as some tomatoes can be. Simply wonderful. My wife said she had never tasted a better tomato, and, coming from South Georgia, she knows all about tomatoes. She does not like cherry tomatoes, but because these are so firm and sweet, she finds them simply delicious.
These small gold tomatoes began their historic trip across the world in Peru among the ancient Incas who thought they were wild vines, and worked their way up to the Aztecs of Mexico, who thought the “tomatl” was a symbol of good fortune from the gods. Later, many Europeans believed tomatoes were evil, unhealthy and poisonous.
Well, poisonous, yes, because many living in the crowded cities of the early 16th century used them as ornamental plants, which were doused every morning with the contents of the bed pan. Anyone eating the fruit became ill, to say the least.
It took the Italians to recognize their value as a food, especially after the Borgias were fond of their great taste. Eventually, the little wild plant from the Incas’ fields ended up in America in various sizes and colors. And two such wild plants ended up in my garden this year.
Will I plant Aztec Gold next year? You bet. Gardeners can also refer to the WSU Fact Sheet FS145E – Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden, cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS145E/FS145E.pdf.
For answers to gardening questions, contact the Master Gardeners at the WSU Grant-Adams Extension office at 754-2011, ext. 4313 or email your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our web page at grant-adams.wsu.edu.