Tomatoes everywhere!

It seems that everyone ends up with a bit of gardening obsession – or is it just a male thing?  I think I can safely say, I have a bit of thing for tomatoes.  Last year we had 6 varieties – cherry, salad and plum, both greenhouse and outdoor types.

We went to a workshop on how to save seeds today.  It was organised by a local community organisation, Down to Earth Stroud.  This is a relatively new initiative for them in our area and one that we are definitely keen to get involved with.  I am going to write more on this when I have done a bit more research.

One of the group had brought along some tomato seedling that were going spare.  There are seed saved by someone on their allotments and are simply called Margaret’s Black. So I have pricked these out and transplanted them to bigger pots.  I just done a quick count of the plants and there are a lot…

We have a few more varieties this year too

  • Sungold F1 – super sweet cherry
  • San Marino – a wonderful cooking plum tomato – the classic Italian tinned ones
  • Costituto Fiorentino – a big deep red cooking *
  • Purple Ukrainian – heritage purple/red salad *
  • Tigerella – a fun orange striped red salad
  • Cream Sausage – outdoor, yellow tasty cooking plum one
  • Tangelo – orange salad *
  • Holly Rose – early pinky red small salad *
  • Japanese Black Trifle – late dark red/black one * and
  • Margaret’s Black  – a dark red probably outdoor one *
  • Money makers – red cherry tomato
New this year = *

There are “only” 2 or 3 of most of them but as we got a tray of Margaret’s Black there are more of them. The tray of Margaret’s Black needed to be separated out and planted into new pots – pricking out.  It is also a good opportunity to take the slightly leggy, etiolated, ones and bury them up to the first leaves.  The stem then grows new roots under the compost surface – being they get stronger and healthier.

The plan is to grow a couple of most of them in the greenhouse and then the rest outdoors – the Cream Sausage and Margaret’s Black are both outdoor ones.  The indoors ones are going to be grown as cordons – a single stem trained up some string, this is also called indeterminate.  The other way tomatoes grow is as a bush – determinate.  The main difference is that the side shoots between the leaves on the main stem also flower and produce fruit.  We have one variety that grows well as a bush, the lovely small plum tomato cream sausage.  I am not sure how the Margaret’s Black grow yet.  We will probably do a try both methods and see which one works best.

I read last year, I think it was James Wong, about cutting off the top of the plant after 1, 2 or 3 trusses.  The idea is that the plant then puts energy into few tomatoes – they mature quicker, have more flavour and are sweeter.  This is how most of the outdoor tomatoes will be grown.

Ok time to “fess up” – we have 10 Margaret’s Blacks and 21 others – 31 in total (and we gave 3 to my Dad already)… But until the last frost is past, they are all in the house!

Quick update :- I gave in and we planted 3 money maker seeds.  Tomato sauce and chutney are both delicious after all …

16 comments

  1. Purple Ukraine is a lovely tomato. I grew them last year and am growing this – with the 17 or so other varieties I’ve got going. They do well outside with strong supports, the tomatoes are BIG! Real Seeds has good tomato seed saving guidelines on their website if you’re after help.

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  2. Agree : need to keep saved seed ‘clean’ & true – I tend to exchange seed with growers I know are reliable seed savers ie know what they’re doing
    Seed saving guidelines – on to it now !

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  3. Yes we have tigeralla too but grew as a cordon. This year we are growing Tangella too. I am curious about the green tomatoes.
    Happy to try out a tomato seed exchange but keen at we save ones that are going to grow true

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  4. Re: crossing – according to the Seed Savers Handbook, tomatoes are self pollinating & easy to save. However, while modern varieties have negligible risk of cross pollination, older varieties have do have a risk of cross pollination; but it’s possible to minimise the risk. Could publish guidelines, which are very easy to follow, so people can save good seed.

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  5. Have Tigerella a bush variety; Tangella (unsure if bush or cordon – will discover over time!); Cyril’s Choice ( a bush I think from Heritage seed Library); that’s it – but am thinking of sweethearting interesting varieties from fellow plot holders in Brighton. Maybe we could coordinate a tomato seed exchange – someone I follow on Twitter coordinates a general exchange – I’ll check on how they organise it & let you know. Ooo, a plan emerges!

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  6. Am intrigued by the idea that tomato varieties respond differently to weather etc – makes total sense. If you think about the 1000s of potato varieties, grown in the Andes, in different microclimates, why not tomatoes which are related. Makes sense to veer away from monoculture – & yes, lots of tomatoes together is actual monoculture, but mixing them up does possibly help.

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  7. GOod idea. We are part of a local seed saving initiative. I am not sure how easy it is to ensure that tomato plants don’t cross tho. You need to keep them breeding true.
    What are you growing?

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  8. Yr tomato varieties sound intriguing – a suggestion: how about saving seed & doing a tomato seed exchange this Autumn? – wld definitely be interested in some of those & may have a couple of varieties I could send you-have only just got back to growing tomatoes after a 10 yr gap. Had terrible run of blighted tomato crops that made me give up. We’ve now got a greenhouse so we’re growing them again this year – all VERY exciting

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  9. Ohyes, I love the excuse that you cant rely on the British climate and therefore you just have to grow lots of diffrent ones. I might so some money markers that are in the seed collection today

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  10. Well, I also have the tomato-lovers affliction! Due to limited space, I try to restrict myself to a “sensible” number of tomato plants, which I grow in pots. Last year I had 22. I like to have lots of different varieties rather than many of the same. This is also good practice, because different varieties react differently to weather conditions, so if you have lots something is almost bound to do well!

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