The Tomato Diaries #5

A long ‘diary’ and the final one for 2021. All is not yet safely gathered in. I’ll leave the tomatoes to ripen on the vine as long as I can; he plants are still producing flowers (which I keep cutting off), though they are nothing more than bare stems and clusters of unripened fruit.

The days (and nights) are warm enough for now; in a week or two I’ll harvest the outdoor tomatoes and bring them inside to finish off. The greenhouse ones should be okay for a little longer but collected by the end of September.

Greenhouse

These seem to be doing OK, despite the cooler weather and darker days of the last week in July. I’d already removed what side shoots I could see/reach and some of the larger leaves. I’d rather have a smaller crop of larger tomatoes, than a large crop of small ones that take weeks to ripen indoors. There are plenty of flowers yet to form and – inside the greenhouse – several hover flies buzzing around (which saves me using the duster to pollinate them!

My brother visited on 10 August and suggested I needed to remove most of the lower leaves on all the tomato plants to stop the plants putting all their energy into growing leaves instead of fruit – so I went for it! Oops

The Fruits of My Labour

By 18th August, some tomatoes are ripening.

Five days on, and these were ripe enough to eat. All Gardener’s Delight; pleasant enough though I thought the flesh rather soft and the flavour a bit wishy-washy. I was expecting a stronger taste with a bit of bite to it.

Heritage (Outside)

I spent the last afternoon of July sorting out these tomato plants. Each pot was quite congested with crossed stems and long leaves hiding the emerging fruits. The previous evening, Monty Don (Gardener’s World, BBC2) reminded us to remove side shoots on cordon/indeterminate tomato plants. I hadn’t checked these since planting them out into the larger pots. By the time I’d removed some quite large side shoots, yellowing lower leaves, and tied the stems in to canes or sticks, they were half the size as when I started. They had a good watering (even though it was raining) and a liquid feed to pep them up. Hopefully that should boost fruit production and growth.

Again, on 10 August, I ‘thinned out’ the leaves on these plants to allow the fruits to get more light and start ripening.

Mid month, and the three pots moved to Raised Bed B to protect them while we pressure washed and sealed the top patio. Except the weather was too wet to seal it so the tomatoes will remain here. I’ve removed all un-pollinated flowers so the plants can concerntrate on growing and ripening the existing tomatoes. If the weather doesn’t warm up, I may wrap them in bubble-wrap to keep the chill off.

Harvest Time

Though I have eaten some of the tomatoes from the Tiny Greenhouse, I haven’t yet tasted any of the heritage ones. That is about to change as I picked these on Saturday morning.

Taste Test

This was the first time I had all four varieties of tomato available to eat at the same time. For a true test, half of each variety should have been grown in the green house and half outside; and Rosella isn’t a heritage variety either!

A is Gardener’s Delight; B is Yellow Delight, C is Rosella, D is Bloody Butcher.

Gardener’s Delight: my husband liked this one (but then he prefers the bland supermarket tomatoes available all year). I thought it was watery and the flesh was soft; a mild flavour that didn’t make my mouth water.

Yellow Delight: he thought the skin was tough (his half may have had a touch of green remaining). I found the flesh was firmer and the flavour better than its red cousin.

Rosella: we both liked this one. For me it had a proper tomato flavour with that slight sweet tang you get with cherry tomatoes. The colour was darker than the Gardener’s Delight, though the fruit was the same size. I didn’t get the “blend of raspberries, blackberries and other summer fruits” that it’s supposed to have, perhaps I will if I eat one straight from the vine on a warm day.

Bloody Butcher (heritage): I liked this one too. Not as large as I expected though DT Brown describe it as “[a] really strong, ‘red-blooded’ tomato taste […] The red skinned, medium sized fruits have dark red flesh” but it was the first one picked so it may have been a little crowded on the vine.

Final Thoughts

Though next year I plan to grow dwarf, patio and hanging determinate tomatoes, I will grow a pot each of Rosella and Bloody Butcher. No more Gardeners or Yellow Delight for me. I do have a packet of Moneymaker seeds and another of Alicante still to try so perhaps one each of those as well.

The dwarf and patio varieties produce fruits all in one go, so they will do for early tomatoes and the indeterminate varieties for a later harvest.