A Taste of Summer, Home Grown Tomatoes!

One of the big giveaways that spring is definitely here regardless of the weather is the arrival of young tomato plants into the garden centre. I don’t think that you can beat a warm fresh home grown tomato picked straight from the plant. So much more satisfying and tastier than shop ones, you know exactly where they’ve come from. Last year I grew ‘Gardener’s Delight’, a cordon variety. I planted two in the garden border that was part of a project I was working on, just to fill a space for the season. They were yummy and to be honest not many made it as far as the kitchen. I’m sure their crops would have been a little heavier if last year’s weather had been better. This time I intend planting a couple of different varieties in containers on my patio. When choosing tomatoes it’s important to take into account growth habit as well as whether for indoor or outdoor growing. Plants need rich moist but well-drained soil, or can be grown in grow bags or containers too. Plants in containers or grow bags will need regular feeding once the flowers are formed. Cordon or vine varieties are known as ‘indeterminate tomatoes’. They have a central stem that needs supporting by a cane or string. The side shoots that grow between the main stem and leaf stalks need removing regularly otherwise the plant will continue putting out unproductive growth. If growing indoors remove the central stem tip above the sixth truss, but for growing outdoors remove the tip above the fourth truss. Bush varieties are called ‘determinate tomatoes’, being more compact, they will still need a cane for support, but won’t need side shoots removing. There are some tomatoes like the beefsteak varieties that share both growing habits and these will need to be kept in check for any unnecessary growth. It’s always good to see different varieties come into stock and this year ’Golden Crown’ has caught my attention. It’s a very early cordon variety with round yellow fruit and is known as ‘Goldkrone’ in Eastern Europe. It should bear a heavy crop of juicy tomatoes with a sweet fruity flavour. I hope it does because I’m looking forward to trying them out next to some red peppers, home grown courgettes and mushrooms on a piece of toast. ‘Totem’ F1 is a dwarf variety that’s perfect where garden space is limited. It’s an early cropper and heavy yielding, with large trusses of red tomatoes that grow low down on the stem. If you haven’t grown tomatoes before why not try ‘Alicante’, an early maturing variety that’s very reliable, greenback free with a superb sweet flavour and has the R.H.S. Award of Garden Merit.