The end of another tomato growing season and, for those of us in the UK, one that has been very successful!

It’s funny how our interest in growing tomatoes varies. Some of us are mainly interested in the tomatoes, some are mainly interested in eating them and others are interested in growing the plants. I guess that I’m most interested in the tomato plants – how they function and what makes them grow to their full potential. if you take care of the plants, the plants will take care of the tomatoes.

Sweet Aperitif - sweet by name, sweet by nature!
Sweet Aperitif – sweet by name, sweet by nature!

 
Last season’s poll
At the end of last season we took a poll to see which varieties were the most successful among the newsletter readers.

  • In the cherry category Gardener’s Delight was first, closely followed by Sungold.
  • Of the medium/salad varieties, Moneymaker came first, Alicante and Shirley a close second and third.
  • Marmande came first of the beefsteak tomatoes by a mile.

If you have a star performer this season it would be good to hear about it in the comments below!

Earliness
One of the challenges of the season is to see how early it’s possible to grow the first ripe tomato. The bush varieties Red Alert and Maskotka do it for me. However, early bush varieties have usually petered-out later in the season, when the traditional and reliable Gardener’s Delight, Moneymaker and Alicante come into their own.

When planning which varieties to grow next season, it’s a good idea to grow early and later fruiting varieties for a cropping period that is as long as possible.

Changes to the website
I think it’s been twelve years since I started the website in its present form. During that time I’ve learned lots, as we all have from each other, and I continue to be an enthusiastic student of the tomato plant.

Monthly Newsletter
In 2015 the newsletter will be changing. Those who receive an email link each week now, will continue to receive a newsletter next season on a monthly basis. This will contain basic tips about growing tomatoes and be mainly aimed at those who are new to the subject.

The Tomato Growing Club
There will also be an opportunity to join the “Tomato Growing Club”. Members will receive a weekly newsletter that contains all sorts of information at various technical levels. There will also be a weekly webinar – a bit like a radio broadcast – where members will be able to ask questions live online and share in a weekly conversation about growing tomatoes. Members will be able to email me directly to ask questions whenever they like and there will also be a members forum.

These are just some of the changes for next season and I hope that you will join me in the “Tomato Growing Club” in 2015. I will mention that to join the “Tomato Growing Club” will require a small monthly subscription of £5.00 per month. But you can still receive the monthly newsletter for free.

New products
New products for growing tomatoes regularly appear on the market – some good, others not so good, and I’ve been in a fortunate position of being able to try out and test some of these and pass on their advantages and disadvantages.

Among the most useful, in my opinion, are those that save time with watering and help keep plants in tip-top condition and helping to prevent disease.

Disease prevention
Fortunately, this season was mainly free from the fungal diseases that are so damaging in a wet summer, so the products that help prevent blight and similar problems were unable to be tested.

Next season there will be an area of the website specifically about controlling diseases and the new products that help prevent them.

Until next season …
That’s it for now …. I’ll send out an email over the winter period with more details about next year’s Newsletter and Tomato Growing Club.

Regards,
Nick

 

28 Responses

  1. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    On the basis that three seasons of reading your newletters/website has allowed me to grow pretty much every strain I’ve grown successfully this year, clearly the best tomato strain is ‘one grown according to Nick Chenhall’s guidelines’!!

    IN terms of yield, the best this year have been: Black Russian (beefsteak); Alicante (salad); Apero(volume) or Maskotka (yield) for cherries.

    In terms of quality/taste, Zenith has been an excellent salad tomato and Apero/Sungold have been the best tasting cherries.

    In terms of speed to first harvest, Maskotka and Glacier made it in 18 weeks, whereas the average was 20 – 21 weeks (beefsteaks and salads similar).

    All I still have left is the last wave of Tigerella, the dregs of a great Black cherry plant and two Cedricos which weren’t sown until the end of April and still have 10 – 20 good size fruit on each.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Rhys for your support and helpful comments that are full of useful information!

  2. Geoff Perry
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, thank you for your wealth of knowledge sent out in your weekly does & don’ts for growing success for we more novice growers. This year I grew the normal more common toms, I did try 2 new ones (to me that is) MANDARIN ORANGE & CREAM SAUSAGE fun to grow in a tunnel both colours as what it says on the tin, both very tasty.
    Have a good winter Nick
    Regards
    Geoff Perry

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Geoff, I haven’t tried either of those varieties but they sound too good to ignore next season – you have a good winter too!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  3. David
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Shame the newsletters have now come to an end for this season but I’ve enjoyed them. Now looking forward to next year’s.

    I grew ”Sunstream” this year on my allotment plot & it did very, very well! This is a heart shaped, small plum tomato that is very sweet. It’s very prolific & produces very long trusses with dozens of tomatoes on each one. The higher up the vines the longer the trusses! It’s a very vigorous plant. It’s only drawback seems to be it has no resistance to blight 🙁 It is also a little prone to BER, especially on the first couple of fruits on many of the trusses.

    I also grew ‘Gardener’s Delight’, which I see came tops in your poll! I like the taste of this variety very much & most years grow a few plants. This year I’ve grown a number on my balcony at home. These are still cropping & I have fruits for several more weeks at least. No blight on the ones grown at home but I lost all my plants on the allotment because of blight. Even so it has a slight resistance to this disease. I didn’t find any fruits with BER on my plot & just one on my balcony. They do tend to split if they get a great deal of water as I discovered after we had a few days of heavy rain. That didn’t happen however on my balcony.

    Looking forward to seeing your new website next year!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi David, thanks for your comment which is very interesting and informative. Splitting is is a big problem with ripe tomatoes and some varieties are more prone to it than others. Using a watering system, growing under cover and picking toms as soon as they ripen are a few ways to help avoid the problem.
      Looking forward to next season too – let’s hope we get decent weather!
      Nick

  4. Ethel
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    Have very much enjoyed your informative newsletter as usual. Despite being very late in starting due to the late Spring our tomatoes have produced fantastic crops. Sungold as always is our number 1 cherry and I have had incredible success with a large, tasty plum variety called Savantes. These were sown from seed saved from fruit purchased at my local Farmer’s Market last year! One to watch out for buteo require lots of watering. Here’s hoping next year is half as successful!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Ethel, I’m pleased that you have enjoyed the newsletters – I’ll look out for the varieties you mentioned especially the large tasty plum Savantes as a replacement for Roma.
      Nick

  5. ron
    | Reply

    Excellent news letter. Merry XMAS

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Ron!

  6. Lauren
    | Reply

    The two cherry toms I have grown this year are “Stupice” and “Broad ripple current”. Both have yellow tomatoes (making it difficult to tell apart!) and produce tomatoes early in the season. I think stupice has produced more tomatoes, however. The taste is slightly sweet. There isn’t really a main stem, although it could be grown like a cordon. Apparently it can crop into November. Hasn’t been affected by blight and survives pretty well with neglect!

  7. bill
    | Reply

    P .S have a nice xmas

  8. bill
    | Reply

    thanks 4 all your help hope to hear from next year

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Bill, You’re welcome … you have a nice xmas too!

  9. Buster
    | Reply

    Thanks for all your knowledge & enthusiasm on tomato growing Nick.

    Tamina (potato leafed) was my top of various good performers this year. Did well outside but greenhouse ones
    even better. The big leaves must be more vunerable to wind & rain! We had an exceptional summer for toms.

    Buster

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Buster, The Tamina in my polytunnel did very well too – big clusters of larger than average fruit.
      Nick

  10. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Will you have a discount for an annual fee paid up front for the Club Nick?? Say £30 for 8 months if paid in January? Or is £5 a month another way of saying £40 for the year??

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys, I will be giving a discount – exactly as you describe.
      It will be from February to the end of September (eight months) but will charge for six if paid up front.
      Nick

  11. Mark
    | Reply

    This year has not been as good as last year in our polytunnel, however outside the cherry plants have done (and still are doing) very well. I’m interested by your poll. One of the difficulties with any poll like this is whether the “commonly grown” varieties “out-volume” the less common varieties. For example, from my perspective, Summer Cider is the best beefsteak variety available. However, I don’t know of any other people who grow it. So regardless of how good it might be, I’m the only one saying that. I find Marmande to be much less tasty but its much more easily available.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark, you are absolutely right – I haven’t grown Summer Cider before, but on your recommendation I’ll give it a try next season.
      Nick

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks for suggestion. I may consider growing it next year 🙂

  12. Mick W.
    | Reply

    Hi nick
    Thanks for the news letters, very interesting.
    1 Sungold
    2 Golden Sunrise
    All growing outside.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Mick … I haven’t grown Golden Sunrise for a few seasons but it is a great variety that used to be very popular.
      Nick

  13. Terry
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, Thank you very much indeed for this years News Letters, I find them very helpful as I am not exactly the best when it comes to Tomato Growing, The Tomatos I grew this year were Sungold, Money Maker and Gardeners Delight, not a very good season for me this year at least as far as Sungold was concerned but hopefully next year I will persist with The Money Maker and Gardeners Delight and not bother with the Sungold.
    Thanks again from terry.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Terry, I grew Moneymaker in my first season and many times since. Although it may not be the finest tasting medium variety, it is one of the most reliable. Gardener’s Delight is one of the finest tasting traditional toms around.
      Nick

  14. Valerie
    | Reply

    I have enjoyed your weekly newsletters and after a bit of a disaster finally had a very good crop of Moneymaker.However Gardeners delight let me down. I don’t think I picked a single tomato!
    Black cherry did me proud and I am still picking.
    My question is. I have been told that Catlit works well instead of Perlite and of course is much cheaper.Do you have any experience of this? I shall try one or two pots next year.Like you I enjoy experimenting?Early best wishes for2015.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Valerie, Black Cherry did very well for me too this season. I haven’t tried catlit as a substitute for perlite but now you’ve mentioned it, I’ll check it out.
      Nick

  15. John Bowtell
    | Reply

    I have great success with Cossack F1. Some planted early and showed good resistance to cool conditions. Some that I planted late are in a shady shed with an open front and are doing very well, still producing new fruit and yielding a heavy very tasty crop. Very easy to look after.

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