Friday, February 26

Seeing red and yellow

We always end up with more tomato seeds than we intend as after our orders come in there is an inevitable influx of free seeds that we just can't resist sowing. We set out with good intention to compare the fruits but somewhere along the line things become confused. I have created a couple of tables the first being a harvesting schedule.
It is difficult to compare yields as we had differing numbers of plants and also the fruits of some are naturally larger than others. If the number of plants was the only problem then I could work out an average harvest per plant but we had a problem in that towards the end of the season the plants especially those planted outdoors merged together and it was difficult to determine which plants we were harvesting from. Hence the row of unknowns.
Most of the varieties produced the small bite-sized tomatoes that we like. The yellow Sungold and red Gardeners' Delight are firm favourites.
It was difficult to assess flavour as I think the lack of sunshine affected this.

We grew tomatoes in three different locations, in the garden greenhouse, the plot greenhouse and outdoors. As a general observation the outdoor plants ripened first, then the plot greenhouse and lastly the garden greenhouse. Did the plants outdoors benefit from more light in what was a dullish period, did the smaller closed up plot greenhouse warm up more than the much larger garden greenhouse that usually had the door open? It's hard to say.

The plants were much healthier this year which we put down to the different Clover grow bags.
The biggest surprise was the from the tomatoes planted outdoors. These were really the leftover, weakest looking plants that would usually have been composted. This year we decided to risk blight and plant then in a bed on the plot.
It must have been some form of divine inspiration as we were blight free and the plants produced a really good harvest. Maybe another year the plants would be devastated but if nothing else it shows that if you have space it is worth planting some tomato plants outdoors especially if the alternative is to compost leftovers.

Next year we are mainly concentrating in small tomato and those claiming to be blight and other tomato disease resistant varieties:
Sungold
Gardeners' Delight
Sunchocola
Crimson Crush
Mountain Magic

We are trying to be restrained but no doubt some others will sneak into the mix.


PS We have just added Cherry Fountain as we realised we hadn't ordered a patio type variety.

16 comments:

  1. I always end up growing more tomatoes than I really should. There are just so many nice ones! Have you tried "Ferline"? It has fairly good blight-resistance, and produces big tasty fruit. It has become one of my regulars. I tried "Legend" which is also supposed to be good for blight-resistance, but wasn't impressed. The plants were floppy and the fruit was very irregular, with lots of un-useable bits. What did you think of "Crimson Crush" then?

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    1. We only had one plant of Crimson Crush which was given to us by a friend so it produced a decent yield and was tasty enough to give another try. In a sunnier summer I think the taste would improve. It also wasn't really a good test of blight resistance last year. The leaves were also unusual.

      We haven't tried Ferline or Legend.

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  2. I don't have a greenhouse and actually toyed with the idea of giving a couple of plants a go outdoors here but put that idea to the back of my mind. Reading here on how well your outdoor ones did I might be encouraged to give some a go.

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    1. If you do have a girl Angie choose some blight resistant varieties. Last year we were lucky in that we didn't have any blight as it was too dry. Having said that when we grew tomatoes outside in the garden we were less likely to get blight than we are on the plot where lots of people are growing crops in close proximity.

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  3. I just put my seeds in today. I'm interested to see which varieties you've chosen, the bottom three are new to me. I'm growing Ferline (blight resistant), Orkado and Sungold. I'll probably pick up a couple of Gardeners' Delights from somewhere, and I've had good success with a yellow one that I'd like to grow again, if I could just remember what it was called...

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    1. You sow yours much earlier than we do, CJ. What is the yellow variety Amish Gold?

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  4. Sunchocola sounds rather delicious Sue. Let's hope for a warmer summer this year. If I can find where my heated propagator has disappeared to I hope to sow some Maskotka and Sungold seeds this weekend. I'm also going to take the less work option and will be buying a few plants this year.

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    1. Sunchoca is our novelty variety for the year, Anna. I hope you find your propagator.

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  5. Wow - I cannot believe you are harvesting tomatoes in June!

    When it comes to comparing varieties, I try to plant tomatoes that look distinctly different beside each other so that it's easier to tell which is which. I also create a little map once I plant the seedlings outside so that if the tags get lost, I still know exactly what I planted and where. But I only have to deal with a couple of beds, not 3 garden areas!

    And it's not often that I see folks on that side of the Atlantic growing the same varieties as we do, but I've noticed a couple of yours are also in my lineup (Sungold & Mountain Magic).

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    1. The ones picked in June, Margaret were from plants grown in the house. They grew very weak and leggy but did produce some early tomatoes. I'm not sure though that we will bother repeating the experiment.
      The unknown varieties of tomatoes were just the odds and ends that were just stuffed into a bed on the plot rather than throwing them on the compost heap. We didn't expect anything from them and so we didn't keep a note of which varieties were which. There was also a point when the tomatoes were falling off the plant and we were picking them up off the ground and we didn't know which plant they had fallen from.

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  6. I like to grow a wide range of tomatoes too and agree that Sungold and Gardener's Delight are both good. I also like the huge Oxheart type and some little ones a friend gave me called Aunty Madge - they look just like pixies with their green calyx hats. Black cherry tasted great, but I didn't like the look of them. Yellow stuffer looked amazing, but were dry and tasteless (I didn't actually stuff any, but I'm sure they'd have worked well)

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    1. I do wonder whether some of the tomatoes would have taster sweeter if we had had plenty of sunshine, Patsy. There are certainly plenty of varieties to9 choose from.

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  7. I've not got a huge amount of space in my greenhouse so can only really go for a couple of varieties. I so love the taste and cropping habit of Sungold that its always going to be on my list and I've also been growing a very reliable variety called Lucciola which crops over the summer and has tasty red mini-plum tomatoes. But I'm going to try and squeeze in a larger beefsteak variety this year. Never tried them before, have you any experience? Was interested to hear about the ones that you put outdoors. You just never know do you, so weather dependent.

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    1. Sungold is very popular Annie. I've never heard of Lucciola. We have grown some huge beefsteak tomatoes in the past - see this video - they never seem to have as many actual tomatoes.
      As for growing tomatoes outside - if you have spares like we did it's worth popping some outdoors. If it is a blight free year you win if not you have lost nothing. In a garden it seems blight is less of an issue than on an allotment where lots of growers are in close proximity.

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  8. I think there is a law that you always end up sowing more tomato plants of more different types than you planned. Which from last year did you find the tastiest?

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    1. To be honest I'm not sure, Janet - Sungold is tasty and Gardeners' Delight. It maybe wasn't fair to compare last year as I always think sunshine sweetens and we had precious little of that at ripening time.

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