tomato moneymaker - As Old As The Hills

I love to read the descriptions of tomato varieties in the seed catalogues and brochures. The term “as old as the hills” is sometimes used to describe Moneymaker (left).

About twenty or thirty years ago, if you mentioned growing your own tomatoes, Moneymaker would probably be the first, or one of the first varieties on most gardeners lips. These days, there are so many varieties around that Moneymaker has lost its popularity, now having to compete with hanging basket tomatoes and the like.

Other well known varieties that have been around for some time include Gardener’s Delight, Alicante, Ailsa Craig and Shirley F1, the last of these being particularly suitable for greenhouse growing.

The reason I mention these varieties is because next season I plan to get back to my roots as it were – to the varieties I used to grow before I got led astray by all the fancy promises that the modern varieties would give me. Such as the best taste and biggest yields ever – even in a poor summer!

This summer has been the worse season for growing tomatoes that many gardeners have experienced. It is at times like these that the old traditional varieties may get a chance to show again what they can do next season, as home tomato growers reflect on the old dependable toms they once grew with great success, almost every season.

However, I think that most varieties will have under-performed because conditions for growing tomatoes have been very poor in most areas of the UK

Diseases can be prevented but it is very difficult to grow tomatoes without enough sunlight. May June and July provided the least amount of sunlight that I have ever experienced and that was the main reason why (for me) growing tomatoes has been such a challenge.

Looking on the brighter side…

  • Blossom End Rot is no longer an issue – just spray with calcium.
  • Blight can be controlled by growing under cover, spraying if necessary and/or choosing blight tolerant varieties.

All we need is a bit more sunshine next year for an excellent season!

10 Responses

  1. Harold Develin
    | Reply

    Nick
    Have you got any more info on this new product Seranade yet? I have browsed the net and can get it from USA, but the cost is the same as the postage, I dicovered a company in UK who do it, Fargro, but that is only for commercial users, are we likely to be able to get hold of some in the near future, I dont think I could bear to lose most of my toms again a second year,you know of any companies that would supply us gardeners.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Harold,
      Unfortunately I have no news about the product being sold to home-growers in the UK yet, but I shall keep an eye on the situation and let you know when the product is available. Until then, it’s spraying with a chemical fungicide to be sure of avoiding blight.
      Regards,
      Nick

  2. Richard
    | Reply

    I have had a fantastic year for growing tomatoes which were grown in my poly tunnel. I stuck to the old varieties of Moneymaker, Alsa Craig and Alacanti. I am in my 70’s and have had no trouble what so ever this year except for leaf curl due to fluctation in temperature earlier in the year. My father used to grow only these three varieties and won many shows with them. If they were good enough for him they are still good enough for me. I live in the extreme north of GB so there is no micro climate here.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Richard,
      It’s good to know that the old varieties are still performing well, even in a challenging summer. Next season the varieties you mention will be growing in my polytunnel too!
      Regards,
      Nick

  3. Buster
    | Reply

    Ferline has produced good toms outdoor & greenhouse for myself, Nick. Most are still ripening but look fine. All grown in large pots 50/50 loam compost mix. The Tumblers have been poor this year. Lots of flowers but poor polination I think. Not enough sunshine!
    B

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Buster,
      Red Alert, similar to Tumbler F1, under-performed this season and produced the worse results for me in about 20 years! The Tumbling Tom plants that I planted late are just beginning to fruit and are doing very well.
      It’s strange how one variety can do well and another poorly.
      Regards,
      Nick

  4. jess allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Would like to say that from my experience this year I will certainly not be growing Latah again. The Glaciers have been fantastic, as sweet as Tumbler and masses of fruit very like Red Alert in growth (medium toms on a large sprawling bush) – they have a very slight perfume to their taste which is very pleasant and unusual. I am thinking of buying some of those tomato cages I see advertised to see if they will keep things a bit tidier. Anyone tried those? The two Brandy Wine have given me about six fruit each and, enormous as they were, I had a problem giving the heavy fruit support. Only two have fully ripened so far and they were tasty but not to my mind all that special. The Sungold have been great as have been the Black Cherry (six of those believe it or not won me Best in Show at our local show!). I actually thought they might have been disqualified because they were very big for cherries. Tigerella useless and Garderner’s Delight very poor. So far most of the plants look very healthy – all in the greenhouse of course – and just hoping for a nice spell of sunshine to finish off the ripening. Am looking forward to hearing about this year’s successes from yourself and others. Tomato growers are so weather dependent and we have been very lucky this year in the far north west compared to most of the country. Fingers crossed for next year. (For all of us I mean!) Incidentally, my Dad grew tomatoes all his life, mainly Moneymaker and Shirley!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jess,

      Well done for Best in Show!
      Instead of Sungold I grew Golden Cherry and as well as Black Cherry I grew Chocolate Cherry this season in order to compare them. The two new varieties were OK but I think I’ll go back to Sungold and just Black Cherry next season!
      It is difficult to judge results this season because of the poor weather, but the Quadgrow Planter has out-performed even the varieties that were grafted. The value of the Quadgrow is that it gives access to moisture and air as well as nutrients 24/7, ‘though I intend to come up with a cheaper alternative.
      Thanks for your comments this season!
      Regards,
      Nick

  5. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    I have taken a deep breath and ordered a variety of seeds yesterday, many of them based on strains you have described as being good (including Maskotka, Tumbler (again) and Stupice). The others are heirloom varieties as I’d like to try them out. Once again, I’ll make seeds from this years plants, adding Alicante seeds to the Shirley F2s as I’ve found that both strains did fine this year here in the SE of England.

    I think I will buy three more spray cans so I have one for seaweed extract, one for calcium, one for magnesium and one just for water. Foliar feeding young plants with seaweed extract really brought the plants on up to the end of May (sown/germinated 7th March).

    I am wondering whether to buy some more Comfrey plants as comfrey tea really gives tomato plants a boost, however we are limited by the amount of leaves we get each year by only having one plant. We gave the potatoes a shot of it too and they did well also.

    I won’t be growing the Milla strain again. Only producing about 40 cherry sized tomatoes in a grobag and the one planted in the garden succumbed to blight in early July.

    The other thought I am having is whether to prepare the bottom half of 10 – 16 inch pots with a ‘slow release compost’ as I did in the garden. The plants in the garden really did well with a combination of newspaper strips, comfrey leaves, home compost, grass cuttings, fish/blood/bone, fresh organic waste well watered and mixed in with a bit of soil, buried about two spade depths below the surface. I put that down about 10 days before transplanting the plants at the beginning of June, hence am wondering about doing the same for plants grown in pots as straight compost from the garden centre seems to run out of nutrients after 6 – 8 weeks.

    Does anyone have any experience of doing this???

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys,
      Sounds like a good idea … I’ve tried similar with chicken manure and newspaper but the pots need to be large otherwise the plants will soon use up the nutrients.
      Optimising a grow bag with your suggested items then sitting a pot on top may provide food for a longer period.
      Your experience with F2’s is interesting – I’ve saved some seeds from Aegis F1 which is used for grafting and believe it will provide most of its qualities next time ’round.
      I’m sure that your selection of varieties will do well next season if we get a reasonable summer and thanks for your regular and detailed comments this season!
      Regards,
      Nick

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