How to Decide what Tomatoes to Grow
February 13, 2015
The range of tomato varieties from which to choose is wide which can make it easy to fall into the trap of only ever growing what you’ve always grown. How about sticking with your tried and tested favourites but also including a couple of new varieties for a change?
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, Tumbling Tom and many others.
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 Elegance is a perfect example.
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 – 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, Country Taste 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 and Tumbling Tom.
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 the new Sweet Aperitif.
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.
Once you’ve decided which tomatoes to grow you can then decide whether you want to grow them from seed or whether you prefer to buy them as young plants. Grafted plants are an excellent choice giving up to 75% more fruits than standard plants, click here for details.