The tomato crop is still coming in but the results are fairly clear for 2018. This year I’ve grown 7 varieties; in the greenhouse, polytunnel and outdoors.
Tomatoes in the Greenhouse
Tomato Ailsa Craig
The tomatoes are ripening thick and fast in the greenhouse. The heatwave has really helped the crop along. I don’t think the plants could carry more – especially the Ailsa Craig. They’re a proper tomato in my book, a good size and versatile. Firm but sill juicy. Sliced on a sandwich, quartered in a salad, halved and grilled with a meal. They work well in a sauce, too.
Tomato Black Russian
Some of the Black Russians are huge. They’re not exactly pretty with their ribbing but often lob-sided shapes but they’re very juicy and the flavour is fabulous. Sliced, lightly salted and drizzled in olive oil with a little garlic they’re a wonderful salad. Don’t forget some crusty French bread to dip up the sauce.
I’ve grown Sungold for years and never had a failure. Really fast, vigorous plants. Always the first to crop and often the last to finish. The sweetest tomato I’ve ever tasted. They’re a cherry tomato, which is perfect as these pop in the mouth like a sweet. I rarely go into the greenhouse and resist eating a few.
They’re a great tomato to grow if you’ve children or grandchildren for that matter. Kids can be so funny about what they’ll eat but if you can get them to just try one watch out they don’t strip the plant. I find the best way is to tell them they mustn’t eat them as they’re special treats. Forbidden fruits taste much better!
Tomatoes in the Polytunnel
Tomato Red Alert
I grew Red Alert in hanging baskets in the polytunnel this year. They’d probably have done better outside as it got pretty hot in there this year. Small tomatoes with a reasonable flavour but they suffered badly from greenback and botrytis. I don’t think we’d have had those problems if they were in the ground, outside. They’re a bit too demanding and vigorous for a hanging basket or small pot.
Tomato Heartbreaker Vita
Heartbreaker are far better for baskets or pots being a more compact plant but decent yields all the same. Well flavoured and the attractive shape makes them a nice visual addition to a meal.
I’ve not grown outdoor tomatoes here until this year. The climate is just too cool being up high as we are. When I got my mini polytunnel from First Tunnels I decided to try some outdoor bush varieties. Sadly a storm blew the whole structure into the field damaging the stone wall that shelters the walled vegetable garden. It gets ridiculously windy here too!
Anyway, I left the plants where they were and the heatwave brought them along a treat. Incas have replaced the classic Roma for me and I’ve never had much joy with San Marzano either, which are supposed to have superior flavour. Incas have a rich flavour, the plants are very firm fleshed and great for sauces and preserves.
I’m afraid I planted a little too closely as I was wanting to make full use of the mini polytunnel and that’s hampered ripening as well as making a nice environment for the slugs. The large fruits weigh down the stalks and this makes them more vulnerable to the blasted slugs.
I had a sample pack sent to me from Marshalls some time back so thought to give them a try. They’re a small bush tomato but what they lack in size they make up for in quantity. I think you could grow them in a large pot but I’ve not tried.
The smaller than Incas fruits do have a benefit in that the stems support most of them off the ground, which means less slug damage. Overall, a decent tomato for outside growing.