Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Tomato Heaven

My veggie growing season always starts with Tomatoes.  Some years I can't be bothered with sowing seed and buy plug plants later in the season,  this means I am restricted to only a small selection of the more popular varieties,  but when I can be bothered I start them off in pots on a heated tray and put them on the sunniest windowsill I can find.

I am growing eight different types this year, some tried and tested, and one or two new varieties to see whether they will be added to my list next year.  I have ditched two types this year 'Tigerella', not because there was anything wrong with it, in fact, it performed very well, and tastes pretty good - the other, a beefsteak type 'Consteluto Fiorentino' which didn't behave itself, and turned brown at the earliest opportunity.

The ones I grew last year that performed well, included Gardeners Delight and Sungold, both indoors and out.

Piccolo cherry tomato
I saved these Piccolo seeds from some supermarket tomatoes together with Pomodoro

Pomodorro small plum tomato
 Both of which I found very tasty, hopefully they will come true to type - but if not, well I am sure they will produce tomatoes anyway.

 Alicante are a good old-fashioned regular size tomato that produce good crops of medium size fruit, with a fairly good taste, and can be grown in the greenhouse or outdoors, and are a reliable heavy cropper.

  Marmande are a  favourite tomato of Provence, the heavy-ribbed fruits are very 'meaty' and perfect for slicing. 

Gardeners Delight cherry tomato
One of the most reliable tomatoes is Gardeners Delight producing masses of large cherry sized fruit with a fantastic flavour on long trusses.

Tumbling Tom
  I have tried quite a few different types of tumbling tomatoes that are suitable for hanging baskets, but to my mind Tumbling Tom, is far and away the best variety so far.  It is usually the first tomato to ripen even though it is outdoors, and the more you pick the quicker they ripen.  A definite winner for me.

Sungold cherry tomatoes
  Finally, my absolute favourite for flavour - the Sungold tomato.  I first came across these a few years ago when I was 'greenhouse sitting' for a friend, watering whilst he was away on holiday.  This is the only variety he grows and I can understand why.  They produce masses of fruit, and can be a bit of a thug, if not carefully controlled by nipping out any unwanted growth.  But the flavour of the tomatoes makes up for an trouble they may cause with their unruliness.  I was still picking tomatoes in November from my outdoor plants.

Black Russian
 My last choice, which I know nothing about, is the Black Russian  - a heritage variety - which is winging its way in the post to me right now.  I bought this on impulse so I don't know what its taste is like, but I'm willing to give it a go - and if I don't think it is worth it I won't bother next year.  All photos courtesy of Google Images

I usually grow a mix of six plants in the greenhouse and the rest are grown outside - a few in a trough in the 'Rosebank' garden, the rest at the allotment.  In the book One Straw Revolution the author suggests that if you don't support your tomatoes, they will lie on the ground and root wherever the stem touches the soil, which means you will get more trusses developing.  So, as ever, I intend to experiment, and do just that ,to see what happens.

I can feel a tomato glut coming on already - most years I freeze tomatoes whole, then just take the amount I am going to need out of the freezer bag - the skin comes off the frozen tomato dead easy if you hold it under a warm tap.

Of course any tomato plants planted in open ground are more susceptible to blight,  so the cherry types are a better bet as they ripen faster.  The mistake people make is overwatering outdoor tomatoes which leads to more leaf than fruit - once they have been planted out at the end of May, they can be left to their own devices till the first flowers arrive.  In their native countries, places such as Equador, Peru and Bolivia they grow in poor ground that is dry - and from experience I can say that outdoor toms develop a better flavour than those grown indoors.  Bush tomatoes would be an even better bet as they don't need staking.


  1. Ah, tomatoes! Wish I could grow them, but with no greenhouse or conservatory there isn't much hope for them up here! Best of luck hun xx

  2. We always grow gardeners' delight for its reliability too.

    Won't tomatoes trailing on the ground get slug damage?

  3. I have no luck growing tomato plants from seed so buy a handful, usually Gardener's Delight, at the trading hut. Blight is the problem here, which struck last year before the fruit had time to ripen.
    Undeterred I shall try again this year! Flighty xx

  4. I usually have six plants in the greenhouse, but this year I'm going to try more plants outdoors in pots too. I like to try some different varieties each year, but I still grow my favourites, Tangella and Gardeners Delight.

  5. My mouth is watering. I love home grown tomatoes. I can't transplant tomatoes into my garden until the end of May, at the earliest, so I'll live vicariously through you.

  6. I'm such a novice when it comes to growing tomatoes but I might give gardeners delight a go this year. You seem to have lots of tomato success!

  7. Oh rejoice...a vision of the future...Spring, Summer, warms days, sunny skies & tomatoes coming outta my ears (although not literally...that would be weird!)...not sure what type we'll do this year, last years weren't so good with the strange weather. Off to ponder...x

  8. Good luck with the various tomato varieties. I like the propagators on the windowsill.
    Growing 2 varieties this year Gardeners Delight & Ailsa Craig, probably in my back garden rather than down the plot.

  9. In complete agreement with you about 'Sungold' Elaine - they may be small but pack a mighty punch taste wise. I was pleased to see them on offer for 99p a packet of 10 fromT&M. I will be growing them this year along with 'Gardeners Delight' and one or two other varieties still to be decided. Will be interested to see how your experiment progresses.

  10. I'm another 'Sungold' fan, they taste so sweet and delicious, my mouth's watering already.
    There is so much you can do with tomatoes, I never worry about having a glut of them.
    I'm trying two heritage toms this year, one called 'Auld Sod' which is an Irish variety and so said to be good outdoors, think its supposed to grow huge so we'll see. Also a sweet cherry variety.
    Will be interested to hear how the 'Black Russian' performs and tastes like.

  11. Tomatoes are one of my favourite plants to grow from seed, and like you I usually have 8 or 10 varieties. Even though I don't have a proper greenhouse (only some little plastic ones suitable for early-season protection of young plants), I still manage to get a good crop most years. The deciding factor is whether or not the dreaded Blight strikes. Because of this I usually include "Ferline" in my choices, since it is the most blight-resistant veriety available.

  12. Oh, I could almost smell the fresh Summer Tomatoes in that post. I have'nt got my seed in yet. I was waiting for the cold snap to pass but it has'nt really materialised here. I have grown Black Russian in the past. They are large Tomatoes with a really lovely flavour but not huge production.

  13. I usually grow the plants from seed for growing in the greenhouse. I think I would be wasting my time outside. Iusually grow Gardener's Delight but tried some heritage varieties last year including one named after someone called Cyrill. Thanks Elaine for the timely reminder to get going with the seeds.

  14. These are great! Are Black Russians the same as Black Krims? I grew those last year and they did well, although they cracked a lot. I think that had to do with my inconsistent watering. I'll try them again this year. I like how you've covered your seed starters with bottle ends. I may try something like that myself!

    Also, in my post today I'm passing on a Versatile Blogger Award to you. I enjoy your blog and love reading about your veggie gardening!

  15. I wish I had the indoor space to grow eight different varieties! What do you do with all your tomatoes each year? Pasta sauce, dried, bottled?

  16. Hello Elaine, I have just found your lovely blog having popped over from Patricias! I love it and have now become a follower.I grew some of our veg last year and plan to grow even more this year.I am constantly looking for inspiration.X

  17. Hi Elaine,

    Just thinking of tomatoes brings to mind sunshine and warm weather. Just what we need on a chilly icy and snowy day like today! Good luck with yours this year.

  18. Lovely selection of tomatoes, Elaine. I keep coming across sungold but you're the first to say how tasty it is. Might have to add it to my list although I already have 5 varieties. New to me this year is Gardener's Delight (inspired by Flighty) and one called Sub-Arctic (from More Veg). Apparently it's very suited to cool growing conditions - should do well in the UK!

  19. I've got a feeling tomatoes lying on the ground will be munched to pieces. Don't they have slugs and snails in Japan I wonder?? Great to experiment though. I won't do many tomatoes because of the blight so I'm keen to see how the experiment goes!

  20. Another Sungold fan here :)
    You've reminded me, I was sent a few packets of freebie tomato seeds, I must take notice and see what they are, then work out if I'm going to try them or not.

    PS Glad I can post now x

  21. Hi, I start my heirloom tomatoes on a Gardeners Supply 3 tier shelf/light system in my spare bedroom every year...I have about 75 plants going right now! I am able to buy a lot of plants, if I wish, but I prefer to try out new types and grow most myself, as plants can get pricey. I have a community garden plot, where I've been gardening for about 15 years now....The one plant I buy is sungold, my hands down favorite, and I usually get a 6 pack, cuz I like to have lots of them. Also a favorite. I get my seeds from the Tomato fest website fyi....I used to grow enough to barter with restaurants in my town, but that was a lot of work, and I had 4 plots going! Now I'm down to 1 and a half, and half is perennials.Enjoy reading about your gardening very much!

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