Thursday, 27 August 2009

Tomato - Maskotka & Tumbling Tom Yellow

Not much has been happening in the garden this past week. However, this is the time of the season when I like to compare the different tastes straight off the plants.

Although each variety has its own characteristic taste, it is also true that the taste does vary from season to season depending on the conditions.

The star of the season has been Maskotka (red in pic) for taste and quantity. It was also relatively early and fought well against the poor weather that we've had in the UK this summer - last season was also very wet and caused me to grow most of my outdoor plants under cover this summer.

Another star has been Tumbling Tom Yellow (pic). It has been later to mature than most of my other cherries, but the taste is zingy and intense with a meaty after-taste ... they look fantastic too!

I would say that these two varieties are the best tasting in my garden this season.

I think I'll buy some plain white plates!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Green Tomatoes - Tips for Ripening

We are still waiting for a few days of sunshine and the ripening of the many green tomatoes that are still on the plants.

If your first toms are still green but full size, I recommend that you feed (with tomato food of course) twice each week or every other watering. This should bring them on and hopefully get them turning colour.

However, don't exceed the manufacturer's recommended feeding instructions for more than three weeks or you may damage the plants roots due to a build-up of nutrients in the soil.

Also, if you are concerned that you have given too much or the strength of the solution was more than you had intended, give the soil a good flush through with clean water.

I still have some varieties such as Alicante without one red tomato, yet Red Alert has been fruiting since June!

If you wish, as soon as a tomato begins to turn colour, pick it and put it in a bowl with a ripe banana. The ethylene (?) from the banana helps ripen toms more quickly.

Thankfully many of the varieties I grow are producing ripe tomatoes and one of the stars of the season has been Maskotka, a cherry bush variety. The fruit are large for a cherry tom and the quantity and taste are also very good.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tomato Split

One heavy downpour of rain and some tomato varieties will split quite easily. Even in the greenhouse irregular watering may cause toms to split, and the worse variety for splitting is Sungold.

However, Sungold is also the sweetest tom I've ever tasted, so it does have its good points!

Irregular watering is the main reason why tomatoes split so I water my toms even if they don't need it and when they do, I'll not give them too much.

If you see a plant wilting give it a spray mist of water but don't over-do the watering.

The good thing about cherry varieties like Sungold is that you won't get blossom end rot which affects mainly medium and large varieties. This means that the main consideration is to not over-water, rather than keep the entire soil area of the roots moist in order to avoid BER.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Maskotka - First in the Field

With so much happening in the garden at this time of the season, it is difficult to know where to start.

My three Maskotka plants have blight after fighting valiantly in the rain - I would give the title of "blight tolerant" to this variety any day considering how often they've been rained-on!

The large varieties (usually later than smaller size toms) are beginning to ripen so I'm taking a few that are turning colour off of the heavy laden trusses. Sometimes a truss can be so heavy that it pulls off the main stem.

On the subject of tomato taste, I think it would be reasonable to say that strong flavoured toms with an acid prominence would go well with strong or spicy tasting food, and toms with a more balanced or sweeter taste would go well with more subtle tasting food.

My wife and I love salmon - we don't eat it very often because of the expense - but I can tell you that an assortment of the right flavoured tomatoes, that suite the subtle taste of salmon, is heaven on a plate. I can't think of a meal I would rather have!

I'm still waiting for First in the Field - it's last in the garden (almost), but like many of the medium and larger varieties they're struggling to ripen because of the poor summer we've had.

A few days of warm sunshine in the UK and we'll be in tomato heaven. If you live in a different part of the world I hope you've had less rain!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Taste & Colour

I spend so much time thinking about the best ways to grow tomatoes I often ignore the subject of eating them.

Left is a pic of three varieties, Auriga (orange) Red Alert (red-obviously!) and Tumbling Tom (yellow).

I like to compare the different tastes and have three colours which look great in a salad - actually I ate them with a bacon sandwich!

The taste of Auriga is sweet with a little acid.
The taste of Red Alert is a balance of sugar and acid.
Tumbling Tom yellow has a tart zingy taste - still sweet but with attitude. Actually, they look similar to how they taste!

With so many varieties to choose from now, and plenty more about to mature, this is the most productive time of the season and the time I look forward to all year - the neighbours are quite happy too, now that they receive some of the overflow!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

100's & 1000's

A couple of weeks ago 100's & 1000's (left) was on my list of tomatoes that are too small to grow. However, the taste is really very very good!

A balance of sugar and acid that is truly traditional - just a pity about the size, although you do get a lot of them.

The toms that have been exposed to the rain we've had lately do taste a little "watery" and don't have their usual intense flavour.

With so many varieties to try it's difficult to decide which ones to grow again next season, however, 100's & 1000's are on my list of best tasting toms!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Each season I like to grow a couple of tomato plants inside my porch which gets the morning sun 'till about midday.

Last year it was Micro Tom which did quite well but the toms were a bit too small for my liking. This year my neighbour gave me two Vilma plants which I planted in six inch pots and just let them get on with it.

As you can see they're doing well and the toms are a decent size cherry - they also taste good too!

Of course I won't get the amount from these plants that I would from Red Alert or Tumbling Tom, which are much bigger plants, but I'm very pleased with this variety and I'll grow them again next season.

Having so much great looking soil/compost left at the end of each season, that I won't use twice on the tomatoes, I decided to have a go at growing a few other vegetables.

My wife loves runner beans so I planted a few in containers with pretty good results. The rain we've had lately has helped a lot.

So I'll keep the soil from the toms and use it again next season on runner beans

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Season So Far - August 10th

It has been a while since my last post having been on holiday for the past week but there is no escaping the weather here in the UK - it has been wet most days in almost every part of the country but we did get some sun over the weekend.

However, on the bright side, I am surprised that none of my plants has blight because this time last year (which was also very wet) was a total disaster and most people who grow their toms outdoors suffered from this dreaded fungal disease.

The plants that are producing ripe fruit are mainly the bush varieties - Red Alert, which was the first to fruit was maturing at the beginning of June!

One of the stars of the season so far has been Maskotka - another bush cherry variety with good size fruit and a good tomato taste. I'll definitely grow this variety again next season.

Growing a couple of plants in the windowsill is something that is also great fun. Last season I tried Micro Tom but was disappointed by the very small fruit. This season my neighbour gave me two Vilma plants and their fruit size has been impressive for a pot cherry.

Tumbling Tom (red and yellow) , Garden Pearl, Minibel, Maskotka, Red Alert and Vilma are all fruiting now but the toms of my other varieties are still green.

A few days of sun will see a big improvement and I can't wait to taste some of the new varieties growing this season.