Thursday, January 20

Red, yellow, huge and small - well that's the idea!

We used to grow quite a lot of tomatoes outdoors on the allotment but for the past three years or so these have been devastated by blight. It seems to have become more of a problem in both tomatoes and potatoes since our site has become fully occupied. When we were surrounded by plots that were overgrown with weeds it was never a problem. Either blight has got worse or it now has a superhighway to travel from one plot to the next. A couple of years ago it even managed to devastate the tomatoes growing in our plot greenhouse.

Now we have totally abandoned the idea of growing tomatoes outdoors and just grow in our two greenhouses – one in the garden and the other on the plot.

Last year we decided to use a ring culture system. For the garden greenhouse we invested in the ‘real’ kit which worked really well
We thought we would try a do-it-yourself system for the plot greenhouse but this wasn’t as successful. We’re not sure whether the compost used in the do-it-yourself system was to blame but have decided to go for the grow-bag and proper kit on the plot too this year as it was sad to see much of the effort of growing good plants go to waste.We thought we would try a do-it-yourself system for the plot greenhouse but this wasn’t as successful. We’re not sure whether the compost used in the do-it-yourself system was to blame (we were a bit suspicious of the quality of compost last year) but have decided to go for the grow-bag and proper kit on the plot too this year as it was sad to see much of the effort of growing good plants go to waste.
As with potatoes we like to grow a variety of tomatoes.
This year we have ordered Moneymaker a banker variety which has been reliable in the past.
Another banker is Gardeners’ Delight a cherry variety which we haven’t ordered as it is due to be free in one of next month’s magazines.

We have also had a free packet of a tomato called Red Cherry which isn’t even in the seed catalogue so maybe some strange mixture.

Our favourite variety last year was Amish Gold which produced some really tasty tomatoes so this will reappear on the list for this year. We have seeds left over for Yellow Perfection and so will be growing that again too.
We grew Tumbling Tom Red is pots in the greenhouse last year and also in some tubs in the garden. (About three plants were planted in the tub in the photograph). These provided us with an abundance of cherry sized tomatoes for relatively little effort – once planted they were fed/watered and left to get on with it. This year we will be adding Tumbling Tom Yellow to the list and hope that it does as well.
Other new varieties for this year will be Blondkopfchen which as the name suggests is another yellow tomato which supposedly doesn’t split and bear masses of fruit, German Red Strawberry which is described as an ox-heart tomato with a shape similar to a large strawberry and Marizol Gold which is described as a red-gold bi-coloured variety that produces huge fruits.

Only time will tell whether these varieties will live up to their reputations. So what tomatoes are everyone else planning on growing?

[By the way following Mark's lead over at Mark's Veg Plot I've widened the blog a little so I can use bigger photos. Hope you like it if you do thank Mark if not well you could always blame Mark I suppose. Sorry Mark!]



  1. I like to grow a variety too. One which is making a comeback this year is San Marzano. I grew it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it cooked, so that will be on the menu again. Another repeat from last year is Tangella. I really enjoyed this variety and saved some seeds, so I hope they grow. I'll also be growing Gardener's Delight, just because you can't really beat them. I've left you an award on my blog. Don't feel under any pressure to accept it if you don't wish to do so, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. I saw the German Red Strawberry and thought about getting it. At the end I decided to buy German Giant.
    I will be growing 13 varieties of tomatoes this year. Most of the tomatoes I will be growing for the first time.
    I like wider blog!

  3. Cheers GLA! Thanks for the credit / blame for the widening of the blog page... I like it anyway.
    Just don't blame me for the blight, eh?
    Have you tried the blight-resistant variety of tomato called Ferline? I think it is a great tomato, large, regular and tasty, and it is a lot more blight-resistant than any other I have ever grown. It will survive a mild dose of the blight and still go on to produce a decent crop.
    I think you are doing the right thing by growing several different varieties of toms. Some will succeed in conditions in which others will fail.

  4. My tomatoes for this year are going to be: Guernsey, Durzba, Yellow Zebra, and Azoychka. Haven't grown any of them before. I may put in a few Celebrity just because they always seem to do well here but we'll see how much room I end up with first.

  5. I will be growing 17 varieties this year. 4 of them are new to me, 2 are from a new seed source and 3 of them I am testing for the last time.

    We had the blight here two years ago. It was later in the season and eventually got all of my tomatoes. Last year no blight!! Hopefully this year will be as good as last!!

  6. Hi Jo - Thanks so much for the nomination, I've commented on your blog about it. Gardeners' Delight is a good standby isn't it?

    Glad you like the wider blog Vrtlarica so one vote for Mark's idea. We have a few seeds left of varieties that we will grow again.

    Credit where credit is due Mark - we haven't tried Ferline - we'll just grow one or two plants of each variety with some extra sown for friends and family.

    Those ones are all new to me Becky it will be interesting to see how they all do. There are just so many varieties to choose from like potatoes!

  7. Hi Robin,
    17 varieties - wow! Blight wasn't too bad round us last year but was the first year it didn't devastate things. It was the compost that ruined things last year (we think).

  8. I hope to purchase heirloom seeds from a catalog this year and try starting more of our plants from seed (just lack space indoors for much of that). We just got back into gardening last year, after building a tall deer fence. The garden didn't do too well, partly due to the soggy spring and early summer weather, our ground not be nutritious enough and I bought mostly plants from the nursery, instead of growing seed. Hopefully we will do better this time around.

  9. Wow..that's a LOT of tomatoes...I tend to stick to whatever my Mum sows as she has always started off my tomatoes. I have only ever grown them outside in tubs in the garden but I may try a couple inside the greenhouse this year too.

    What is the ring culture?? How does it work?

  10. They way we used ring culture was to start with a grow bag and then push the ring into the bag cutting a hole. (three rings to a grow bag)The inner part of the ring was then filled with grow bag compost and the tomato planted in that - This gives a greater depth of compost so a better root system develops.

    Water is provided by tipping into the outer ring (this gets directly to the roots and also keeps water from the tomato leaves)but food is given in the inside ring

    Some people plant the tomato in the centre ring before adding more compost and then they add more as the plant grows - a bit like earthing up potatoes.

  11. Hi Wildflower
    Have you a greenhouse? We sow all our seeds later in a cold greenhouse as they never seem to do well started indoors. Are you adding something to try and boost your soil?

  12. I've tried every year since getting the allotment 3 years ago to grow toms outdoors but they got blight each and every time. I don't have a proper glass greenhouse at the plot but at home have a couple of those 4 shelved tall narrow plastic greenhouses in which I start all my seedlings. Last year tried growing toms in them as well for protection. Still didn't work. Will I have to get a proper greenhouse after all?

  13. I think you will Mrs Jones! The worst thing for us is knowing how we used to get bumper outdoor crops before blight became such a problem!

  14. That sounds like a gorgeous variety of tomato tastes. We haven't had much success with outdoor tomatoes this far north, so I'll just have to watch yours grow.

  15. Hi- in reply to your amaryllis question, I place them in their pot outside for the summer in full sun. In the fall I bring them inside and stop watering allow them to go dormant in a cool/dark spot. Near the end of Dec I put them under strong light and most of the time they will start bloom. In terms of feeding I really never feed them. Just strong light, water & fresh soil.

  16. forgot to mention they seem to bloom more if kept pot bound.

  17. I like your new layout. And you have a good selection of tomotoes. I have leftover seed for MM and GD too, as you say they're bankers. Also have Tumbling Tom Red and Marmande and have added F1 Incas (beefsteak) and Golden Peardrop. Hoping for a blight free year!

  18. MIne are is a small pot Dan but I'll try the outside treatment - thanks

    Maybe is we all hope for a bligt free year at the same time it will happen!

    They'll be none outside I'm afraid Linda - too high a blight risk it was like throwing all the effort away to see them die off just when the fruits were just about ripe.

  19. Hi Sue, I am surprised you mentioned you have blight problem. Everything look in top-shape. We are growing Rouge de Marmande, Super Sioux, Challenger and several varieties of cherry tomatoes.I tried Stupice last year but not suitable to be grown here. I am actually very tired of pruning tomatoes. I have to do it at leant once in forthnightly. Want to give them more air circulation. They grow back so fast.

  20. Hi Diana, Blight wasn't too much of a problem last year but we grew all the tomatoes inside a greenhouse which is why they weren't affected. As for potatoes as soon as we see the leaves affected we cut off the foliage and the potatoes underground are still OK - this is why we go for the earlier maturing varieties.

    The photo of the tomatoes growing outside was taken in our pre blight years.

  21. I love tomatoes! I will be growing 'Marmande' for lovely tomato salads, 'Tumbling Yellow Tom' for lots of cherry tomatoes that will grow well outside, 'Gardener's Delight' and 'Golden Nugget' in the greenhouse. 'Golden Nugget' was amazing last year, 'Sungold' didn't do nearly so well so it comes off the list. I'd been thinking about trying the grow rings this year, I think you might have persuaded me...

  22. We'll all be able to compare varieties Janet. The tumbling ones are great so little trouble to grow.

  23. I'm always trying to grow the perfect tomato-sometimes a challenge with a grove of Walnut trees next to my garden! Great post-thanks for the info!

  24. Hello Rebecca - I hope you benefit from being able to pick fallen walnuts!


Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It is not published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.