If there is one thing that can spoil a holiday, apart from the weather, it’s worrying about watering the tomatoes. So here are a few ideas for holiday watering systems.

Taps and tubing
Watering timers work well but they can be difficult to set up with the tubing and drippers. Getting the right amount of water to each plant – not to mention the possibility of battery failure is a concern.

Valves and trays
Auto watering valves in trays are also useful but require a large water tank if you are away for more than a few days – or you have a lot of trays to feed.

Wicks and reservoirs
The wick system over a reservoir is perhaps the easiest method of watering tomatoes when away – especially when it comes to setting it up with no tubing or drippers.

Other Holiday Watering Systems

The Hozelock Grow Bag Waterer and the Quadgrow Planter are both wick systems. With a few tweeks, there’s very little that can go wrong.

Here’s one basic set up that works very well for individual plants.

It’s possible to add a capillary wick (after filling the pot) by pushing a strip of capillary matting up through a hole in the bottom of a pot with a screwdriver – carefully of course!

Pot with Wick in Bucket for holiday watering systems idea.

Considering the price of a bucket and a piece of capillary matting, it’s a good value system!

If you used a wick system, you will see that roots grow down into the water below. Some roots are quite happy under water, others prefer to remain where there is more oxygen. Within a root system, root have various functions.

A Few Recent Varieties
It’s always good to try a few new varieties – this season it’s Heartbreaker Vita, Sweet Aperitif, Sweet Olive and Black Sea Man … and a few others.

Heartbreaker Vita – A small bush variety producing heart shaped cherry tomatoes with an excellent taste – good sugar/acid balance. A good yield and ideal for growing in pots on the windowsill.

Sweet Aperitif – This one is really sweet but also has a good acid content – the high level of both makes my eyes water – a high intensity tasting tom! It produces a huge yield but the tomatoes are a bit on the small side, so it’s really a cocktail variety.

I could have increased the size of the toms slightly by reducing the amount of flowers on each truss. Also, instead of feeding a high potassium feed when flowers set fruit, giving a balanced until the second truss has set often increases the fruit size slightly.

Sweet Olive – This one has been around for some time – contains a little more acid than sugar content although it’s very prolific and still has a very acceptable taste.

Black Sea Man – Advertised as a bush variety but it thinks it’s a tall variety in my garden! A lovely big, juicy black tomato (dark purple actually) with a taste that makes it all worthwhile. A wonderful taste – very sweet and juicy!

Black Sea Man - large and juicy. I must remove those flowers that have failed to set!
Black Sea Man – large and juicy. I must remove those flowers that have failed to set!

I’m really looking forward to tasting Indigo Rose. The fruit are still growing even though parts of the skin on each tomato (mainly the sides) are black – very mysterious!

Taste varies from season to season
Of course every season is different, and different growing conditions effect the intensity of the taste of each variety. A variety that tastes great this summer can be a big disappointment next season owing to the fact that taste is, to a large degree, light and temperature dependent. What a great season many of us have had so far!

If you would like to mention how your toms are performing this season, please leave a comment below.

Regards,
Nick

17 Responses

  1. Rob
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Many, many thanks.

    I have only just discovered your website and have learnt much from it – even after 50 years’ experience of growing tomatoes. I look forward to putting my new found knowledge into practice. Cheers. Rob.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rob,
      I’m very pleased that you’ve found the website helpful!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  2. David
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, I have grown Indigo Rose, Ruth’s Perfect, Shirley, Sungold this season. (4th season since buying greenhouse). I have been very pleased with Indigo Rose and Ruth’s Perfect flavour and size and have been harvesting for the last two weeks. I grow Shirley and Sungold as my safe bet and again have been harvesting these for the last month.
    Thanks for a great website, I have followed it since buying my greenhouse four years ago, growing my first tomatoes from plants bought from a DIY store. It is the advice and enthusiasm you and the other contributors give/ have that has encouraged me to grow from seed these last three seasons and achieve the satisfaction we all aim for.
    Thanks.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi David,
      I’m very pleased that you have found the website helpful – sounds like all is doing very well in your greenhouse – have a great season!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  3. Mark Mattocks
    | Reply

    I have stuck with favorites this year, all time reliable is, Olirose (Organic Catalogue) Harbinger, Black Krim, Black Russian, Japanese Black Trieffle< Brandy boy.The Jap Black Trieffle was really prolific last year, so should do well this year. Started off as I seem to every year the first truss or two with Rotty Botties< then from then on, no problems. 15plants in big pots (30 plant total) – 15 in G/House and others out. Have only just picked first 4. I sowed later this year ( light levels) Growquick, and ripen at leisure. Thanks for all your tips and hard work, I just wish I could grow all year round and maintain taste levels as I refuse to eat tomatoes out of season. . I'm proud to be a Tomato Anorak.
    Regards Mark- Isle of Wight

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark,
      Looks like you’ve got a really good selection of varieties there! It’s always best to sow later than earlier to get the best results – it’s a lot less work too.
      There are quite a few Tomato Anoraks on this site including me!
      Cheers, Nick

  4. Derek Warren
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, I’m getting a little bored growing Gardeners Delight & Moneymaker so I’m really interested in your list of Recent Varieties I would love to have a go at growing them next year, could you tell me where I could purchase the seeds.
    And thanks again for all your advise.
    Derek

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Derek,
      I get most of my seed from here: http://www.seedsofdistinction.co.uk/vegetables/tomatoes
      There are still a few varieties that they don’t sell – If you want Indigo Rose, I think you’ll need to get them from Suttons seeds.
      Nick

      • Derek Warren
        | Reply

        Thanks Nick,
        when is the best time to buy these seeds, now or leave it till early next year?
        regards Derek

        • Nick
          | Reply

          Hi Derek,
          I think the best time to order is about a month before you need them – hopefully they will have sold their old stock by then!
          Regards, Nick

          • Derek Warren
            |

            Thanks Nick, much appreciated.
            Derek

  5. Michael
    | Reply

    Hi- Nick, I am very surprised at your comment regarding the taste of (Heartbreaker Vita) I grew some this year for the first time, and even though they grew well and were very early, they tasted absolutely horrible “Yuk” and were all spitters, so very acid they almost burned your mouth and just about the worst tomatoes I ever tasted, I shall certainly never grow them again,

    I got the seeds from (Suttons seeds) and they were not cheap either.

    I grow about 150 varieties per year, and these were the worst I have ever had ever. absolutely horrible”

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Michael,
      It just goes to show how different one seed packet can be from another!
      I grew six plants, three in soil and three hydroponically in rockwool, my wife said she thought they tasted better than Red Alert – didn’t get any splitters.
      Nick

  6. jess allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, Far too many tomato plants packed in as usual (27). I’ve topped six or so down to three trusses to try for a bit of a clearance! Sungold, Red Cherry, Red Alert, Tumbler and Latah all ripening fast. Black Krim very slow along with the large HWA and Break o’ Day – lost half of HWA to BER. Indigo Rose very black but still bits of green on the bottom and still feeling very hard to the touch. Big surprise for me this year has been Black Ukrainian which I thought were medium size but are huge plum sort of shape and very prolific – just showing slight turning from green so far. Best buy this year was extra packs of Yo Yo’ s. So easy to move them about instead of untying strings! Thanks for that. Great year so far! Best regards,

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jess,
      The yoyo’s are very quick to put into action – very useful when you can’t move for plants!
      I’ve also grown too many plants (as usual) this season – the polytunnel is jam packet!
      Regards,
      Nick

  7. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Harvested 400th tomato on July 31st – more than 50% of which were the February sowings of Maskotka and Glacier.

    The best taste of the year so far have been Apero, Sungold, Tigerella (all grown in Rhizopots) and, strangely, Zeniths harvested green due to early stage BER and ripened indoors. As well, Ferlines have produced perfect 3 – 4oz fruit with a great taste although you only seem to get about 25 on 6 trusses.

    Super Marmandes have made absolutely fantastic tomato soup – if you use fresh onion, garlic, lettuce leaves and tomatoes and gently sweat the tastes out, it really is amazing.

    Due to the amazing summer, red peppers have already been harvested on Bell Boy and Bendigo and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted. No greenhouse or polytunnel either (although I’ll keep them indoors all year next year).

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys,
      Sounds great – those Rhizopots are obviously doing a good job along with the weather!
      This is one of those summers (so far) when growing under cover has been a bit too hot with temperatures in the polytunnel around 35C daily – even with shading. I should have grown more beefsteak varieties this season!
      Cheers,
      Nick

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