Tomatoes are one of the ways into becoming a vegetable grower. All you need is a grow bag and water. The easiest source of tomatoes is the little plug plants in a garden centre. So for under a tenner you can grow tomatoes that taste better than anything you can buy in a super market. There is usually only a limited range of varieties available in plug form but if you take the plunge there are hundreds and hundred of tomato seeds to choose from.
If you only have grow one sort of tomato, you can’t go wrong with a cherry tomato. They produce lots of fruits over a long period and the taste is always superb – small and super sweet. We grow 2 sorts –
- Sungold (F1) – yellow/orange when ripe and
- Margret’s Black – dusky purple/black
Sungolds are little garden treats – bursting with flavour and really sweet. We really love the Margret’s Black, it has been grown in Stroud area by Margret for years. They are a super sweet and prolific dark tomato. We have grown and saved the seeds for the last 3 years and it is a must for this year and next. Both have done well in the greenhouse and outside. They always get sampled every time I am in the garden.
Another class of tomatoes are the classic salad ones – the sort that every child would draw or the emoji 🍅. This year we are growing 3
- Ruby – a classic red salad tomato
- Tigerella – pretty lightly stripped and
- Tangella – a gorgeous orange colour
We will be growing these in the greenhouse and outside. They are pretty easy and just need to be staked. We successfully saved seeds last year and they are germinating well now.
We eat lots of salads in the summer and these 3 are go to tomatoes for any meal. I love the slightly acidic touch to the tigerella, whilst the tangella is sweet. The tangella did amazingly well last year. We had a real glut in early September and made ketchup. The colour has put off some in the family, but that only means more for us. We still have one small bottle left in the fridge but it won’t last much longer.
The other 2 that we grow are bigger plum tomatoes. These are my favourites, don’t tell the other ones please.
- Purple Ukraine – a big heart shaped dark fleshed plum and
- Japanese Black Trifele – a pear shaped beauty with a mix of colour and superb flavour
These are fantastic as with basil and olive oil. The Japanese Black Trifele make a delicious breakfast when grilled and served on toast. There is also a winning Nigel Slater recipe – roast tomatoes with goats cheese that you should try out. We make roast tomato soup with these when we have a glut and freeze dozens of bags for pasta sauces in the winter.
These larger varieties are slightly harder to grow. However, they are susceptible to blossom end rot. The bottom of the tomato rots and spoils the who fruit. This is usually caused by poor watering, so it is more of a problem in the greenhouse during really hot days. Careful watering, good feeding, staking and pinching out side shoots are all important – but they are not difficult and reward you with reliably bountiful harvests.
There are over 20,000 varieties of tomato in the world which means there is a tomato for everyone and for every occasion. We have tried others (including Cream Sausage and Costoluto Fiorentino pictured below) and will try different ones every year. I am keen to try a big green brandywine varieties next year.
Source of seeds
- Margret’s Black * – Stroud Community Seed Bank
- Purple Ukraine * – Real Seed Catalogue
- Ruby – Real Seed Catalogue
- Tangella * – Brown Envelope Seeds
- Japanese Black Trifele * – Brown Envelope Seeds
- Sungold F1 – Thompson & Morgan
- Tigerella * – Thompson & Morgan
* Seeds we saved last year (and previous years).