Thursday 18 August 2016
It's been the best year yet for tomatoes. Every February I plant a variety of seeds in pots of compost on the windowsill. Some years the plants really don't do well. I don't have a greenhouse and I find that they are happier in the garden than down at the allotment, so I put them in one of my 4' x 8' raised beds. If it's a cool damp year then I find they don't grow and ripen fast enough and I mostly end up with lots of green tomatoes.
This year I experimented with putting the plants closer together. I squeezed in 4 plants along the short edge and 7 plants along the long edge. 21 plants in total as there are a couple of patches of sorrel in there as well and one plant was lost.
The plants did well and by the time the fruits were swelling there was a huge amount of foliage. Because of the amount of plants in the small space there wasn't much light getting in to the centre of the bed, so I cut off most of the foliage. As I say, a bit of an experiment. I usually remove many of the leaves, but later in the season. This was back in June and I wasn't sure if it would affect the plants.
In fact they continued to do really well, and a couple of weeks ago I removed a lot more of the new leaves. I've pretty much just left one or two at the top. I've also pinched out the tops of all of the plants except the Sungolds ones, which are small cherry tomatoes and ripen quickly.
The other varieties I've grown are Ferline, Orkado, Nimbus and Golden Sunrise. Ferline are a good size and have some blight resistance. Orkado were new to me last year but I'll definitely be growing them every year now. They were voted best tomato by Which? Gardening and have a good early healthy crop. Nimbus were a free trial pack of seeds and have done okay, although one or two of the fruits are small and not good quality. Golden Sunrise ripen quite early and have a nice thin skin. The flavour is light and sweet and they look lovely in salads. And Sungold never let me down. Loads of cherry tomatoes from early in the season until autumn. They just go on and on and on.
This year I finally have a pretty good crop out there. It's something I always hope for but tomatoes are tricky in our climate and I'm often disappointed. If you're growing tomatoes this year, how are they doing? And do you have a variety you swear by?