For most of us in the UK, it’s been the best season for a long time.

Many of you have expressed the idea of growing less plants – my thoughts too – owing to the amazing amount of tomatoes we’ve picked and are still picking. Even the neighbours are getting fed-up with my tomatoes!

Nick and a selection of varieties.
Nick and a selection of varieties – not more tomatoes!

One quality that I appreciate at this time of the season is shelf life,better expressed as “long keeping”.

It’s often the juiciest tomatoes that go over first, with the fleshiest ones keeping the longest. There are a few varieties that are bred for this purpose including the variety Long Keeper. I haven’t seen it in the catalogues for a few years though.

Seed Request
Those who requested Steve’s Tumbler Tiger seeds should have received them by now.

If you asked for seeds but are still waiting, please send me your address in an email and I’ll get them off to you: [email protected]

Outdoor Varieties
It’s funny how some varieties just do better outdoors!
You might think that being grown under cover in a greenhouse or polytunnel in a nice warm spot would mean success for every tomato plant but experience shows otherwise.

So why do some plants perform better outdoors?

Advantages of Outdoor Growing

  • Better air flow – increases transpiration.
  • Lower humidity – tomatoes plants don’t like moist air.
  • Plants receive rain water – lower pH than tap water (usually).
  • More pollinators – bees and insects help pollinate flowers.
  • It’s less hot during the afternoon outside – high temperatures in a greenhouse can stress many varieties, especially if grown in containers that dry out quickly.


  • Wet weather
  • Colder at night – but in the early spring you can move plants in containers into a greenhouse if a frost or wet weather is predicted.

I find that Red Alert and Tumbling Tom do better outdoors than in the polytunnel. However, most tall varieties perform better under cover.

Another First
A few weeks ago Rhys, one of our newsletter members, achieved a first for his Shirley tomatoes at a vegetable show. Here is another if his successes – a first in the medium variety class.

First again for Rhys!
First again for Rhys!

Tomato Chutney Recipe Anyone?
Another of the newsletter members is looking for a good Tomato Chutney recipe. If you can recommend one please email it to me and I’ll pass it on. [email protected]

Forum – Bulletin Board
Which suggests that we should have an area for tomato recipes, especially at this time of the season – perhaps a forum for 2014 where we could exchange tips and ideas would be useful.

I recently suggested a few ways to encourage tomatoes to ripen.
As a last resort there is a product called “Ripen” by GHE that is used for this purpose. It’s a bit expensive at around £6.00 but if you have a lot of unripe tomatoes still on your plants, it may be worth considering. You’ll find it at most hydroponic shops or on the internet.

That’s it for the penultimate newsletter of the season – back next week for the last one of 2013.

Kind regards,