Tomatoes come in all shapes, sizes and colours with some being happy growing direct in the garden and others preferring the protection of a greenhouse. Some require a large amount of space, some can be grown in small pots and others are both decorative and productive when grown in hanging baskets.
The vast choice available can make it tempting to fall into the trap of only ever growing what you’ve always grown. The purpose of this article is to give some guidance so that as well as sticking with tried and trusted favourites you also feel confident in trying some of the exciting new varieties.
When choosing which tomatoes to grow the following tend to be the main considerations:
– Preferred type and intended use
– Ease of growing in available space
– Disease resistance
Cherry Tomatoes – These are the tiny, sometimes grape-sized, tomatoes much loved by children. They tend to be sweeter than other types and are suitable for adding whole to salads, roasting or simply eating fresh from the plant whilst working in the garden! Available varieties include the prolific Hundreds and Thousands, Sweet Million, the new Cherry Falls and many others, click here for details.
Medium/Standard Tomatoes – These are what we tend to think of as being “normal” tomatoes. In other words, they are round and about 5cm in diameter. Suitable for slicing, cooking or freezing the renowned F1 Shirley or the exceptionally flavoured new Summer Frolic.
Plum Tomatoes – Oval shaped and of the type found in Italian Tinned Tomatoes these are firm fleshed with few seeds so perfect for sauce and soups. Pink Baby Plum and Principe Borghese are excellent examples as is San Marzano 2 – renowned as the best sauce variety!
Beefsteak Tomatoes – These are the big daddies of the tomato world! Perfect for grilling, stuffing or simply slicing for sandwiches. Try Belriccio, Faworyt or the new big boy on the block – Brandy Boy.
Ease of Growing
Some varieties of tomato will happily grow outside whereas others really prefer a greenhouse if they are to reach their full fruiting potential. So, where you intend growing the tomatoes is a factor in deciding which varieties to choose as is the growth habit and amount of space available:
Bush/Determinate Varieties – these grow to about 2 to 3 ft high and then put all of their effort into ripening the fruit. This makes them great where space is limited but does mean that they have a limited fruiting period – normally just a few weeks. Good examples include Gardener’s Delight, Red Alert, Tumbling Tom and the new variety Principe Borghese.
Vine/Indeterminate Varieties – grown as a single stemmed cordon, with side shoots removed, these varieties just don’t when to stop growing and will continue fruiting until the first frosts. Vine varieties include Sweet Million, Sungold and two new varieties Sweet Aperitif and F1 Flamingo.
Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding crops to grow but it can be so disheartening when your well-tended plants are hit by disease and your fruits lost. Some problems can be avoided, for example blossom-end rot is common and is usually a result of erratic watering but airborne diseases such as blight are harder to deal with.
Many tomatoes come with different levels of disease resistance but if blight tends to be your main problem take a look at the new Crimson Crush – the world’s first fully blight resistant tomato. For 2015 Crimson Crush is only available in plant form but seeds will be available for next season.
Another proven disease resistant variety is the bush-type F1 Lizzano, suitable for indoor or outdoor growing.
The colour of the fruit does not make any difference to the taste but it can be fun to include yellow tomatoes such as Golden Sunrise in a salad rather than always sticking with red. Better still, how about a combination of different colours? The striped multi-coloured Bumble Bee Mix tomatoes will look stunning!
Grafted plants are an excellent choice giving up to 75% more fruits than standard plants, click here for details. The other beauty of grafted plants is that with the new Suttons Duo Grafted Tomatoes you can have 1 plant growing 2 different varieties – check out Indigo Rose/White Cherry, the first black and white tomato plant!