Best & Worst Tomato Varieties Of 2017

This week we are looking at some of the best & worst tomato varieties Of 2017.

Looking back on the season so far, it has been the cherry varieties that have provided the most taste and quantity from my garden.

Not only are cherry tomatoes easier to grow than many larger toms, some of the bush cherry varieties are very early. Eating your own tomatoes in June (in the UK) is a treat!

Beefsteak varieties
In order to experience full tomato taste from large tomatoes, we need a lot of sun and in my part of the world, it has been in short supply this season. Instead, a wet summer has led to a number of outside growers experiencing blight – a common problem in the UK.

Home-grown vs supermarket
There was a time when every home-grown variety would taste much better than every supermarket tomato, making growing your own a good investment of time as well as money.

These days, the supermarkets have much improved the quality of their more expensive tomatoes, so that we now have to choose the varieties we grow wisely, in order to get that real home-grown taste – even in a poor season.

It’s great to grow big tomatoes but if their taste is watery and flavourless, is it really worth all the time and effort?

Varieties to avoid
A few seasons ago I grew Indigo Rose. This is one of the best looking purple tomatoes I have ever seen and the most disappointing for flavour. All the tomatoes i grew were very hard, even when ripe and the taste was very bland – a total waste of time!

Best & Worst Tomato Varieties Of 2017
Indigo Rose – Looks Great!

When every seed packet and catalogue description sings the praises of its variety, you have to go on word of mouth or personal experience.

If you are looking for a variety that tastes bland and will only grow in perfect conditions, buy this one. We can guarantee you will be disappointed all summer long!

I joke of course, but descriptions on seed packets and in seed brochures have a lot to do to gain my confidence.

The truth is that every variety (except Indigo Rose) will grow well in perfect conditions and taste fine with enough sun.
I should say that I only grew Indigo Rose one season and maybe had a bad packet of seeds.

This brings me to ask …

Which variety has been your best or worst this season?

For me it has been Tumbler and several other cherry varieties for taste and earliness. Red Alert, Maskotka and Gardener’s Delight are hard to beat.

The variety with the poorest taste grwing outside in my garden has been Brandywine – usually a great tasting variety but needs plenty of sun.

Cooler climate varieties

Nick with Oregon Spring Tomatoes
Oregon Spring – Bush Variety

One larger variety that I can recommend, especially for a poor summer is Oregon Spring.

It looks rather like Marmande but was bred for a cooler climate. It also has a good taste even when the sun doesn’t show up too often!

Your choice
If you would like to mention your best or worst variety of this season in the comments below, it may help us all when choosing seeds for next season.

Please mention your area and whether you are growing outdoors or in a greenhouse.





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Crimson Crush Seeds – be blight resistant next season!




30 Responses

  1. Rowena
    | Reply

    My tomatoes are grown in quadgrow planter, against a south facing wall in the SE

    Maskotka, very early, delicious, second flush of fruit in August
    Rosella, first class taste, a number of the tomatoes have split
    Sakura, delicious, slightly larger cherry
    Suncherry Premium, first class taste, probably my favourite
    Alicante, surprisingly tasty, grown from seed collected by me in 2015
    Orange Banana, heritage variety, some BER, still waiting for most to ripen, tasteless raw, slightly better cooked
    Cream Sausage, heritage variety, some BER, still waiting for most to ripen, tasteless raw, slightly better cooked
    Brandy Boy, excellent taste, amazing when grilled
    Orange Wellington, many fruits prone to BER, good taste

    Many thanks for all your inspirational advice, Nick

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rowena, that’s a great selection of varieties you’ve grown this season!
      Maskotka and Alicante are two very reliable toms to grow every season. Suncherry Premium and Suncherry Extra Sweet are both red varieties to rival Sungold and bred by the same Japanese breeders.

  2. Terry Cooney OAP.
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    My Tumblers, Gardeners Delight ,Sun Gold were a good cropping and early for this area. Sweet Million very good crop and great taste.
    Money Maker very slow this year, still some green. Marmande also slow. Alicante about 3 weeks
    behind. No Beefsteaks this year. No Blight or other problems. I use rain water most of the time.
    All the work in south facing Greenhouse. Position Co. Dublin ROI.

    But a big thank you Nick, for all your help over the years.
    Regards, Terry

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Terry, it’s good to know you have avoided blight and you’ve had some good results this season. I’m pleased that you have found the newsletter helpful.

  3. geoff
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,I live in east midlands I have grown black Russian in doors and out not bad this year ,Black opal from Kings seeds and black cherry from Franchi seeds could be the same varietie but under a
    another name ,most abundant still going strong, also Red Robin and Red Cherry also very abundant, good old Alicanti never fails .Costello di fiori most disappointing this year maybe the seeds are old. On the whole a good year so far ,more tomatoes than we can eat so a lot go to make pesto which is frozen for over the winter . I always read and enjoy your blogs .regards Geoff

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Geoff, I’ve always enjoyed growing the black varieties with good results, except for Indigo Rose of course! I’m please you enjoy the newsletter/blog.

    | Reply

    Best tomatoes that I have grown are Shirley they have a sharp taste and great flavour.

    Worst are Tiny Tim they are tasteless.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Alan, I agree, Shirley has a lovely traditional tomato flavour!

  5. Mark Mattocks
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    Last year I was given Indigo Rose, looks good, fantastic, “AWFUL”nothing good about it, apart from colour, and they seemed to go on for ever. My favourite has been for the last 6 -8 years has been ‘Olirose’ from Organic Catalogue, this variety has served me well, with taste, and to some extent, resilient to blight. This year I had to grow outdoors, I used quadgrow, brilliant, best cropping I have ever had, but because they were outdoors, succumbed to blight. So I have picked all and wait to ripen. If the stem has blight, will the fruit get blight when picked as soon as detected? And when using Quad Grow, is the blight transmitted to the nutrient supply? I normally grow in a greenhouse, but now have a train layout in place of greenhouse. Next year is a priority for a greenhouse, as in previous years blight has never been a problem
    Excellent advice as usual, your emails are the only ones I keep
    Kind Regards
    Mark Mattocks

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark, Once the fruit is picked, the tomatoes should keep their usual time if they have not been visually affected by the blight. The blight spores attack the leaves so it is probable that sharing a Quadgrow, the fungal disease would not be passed on through the reservoir.

  6. Rob
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Greenhouse cherry tomatoes, West Midlands area.

    Floridity remains my favourite tomato with Rosella (mentioned by Alex) a close second. I also grew Rosada, Sungold, Tomatoberry, Nectar, Sweet Aperitif and Sweet Million this year. Every plant has produced a lovely crop of delicious tomatoes. My neighbour grew Sungold and Sweet million successfully outdoors this year.

    I also grew Modus, which is similar to Rosada but with inferior taste.
    Also Garnet, which is similar to Rosella but with inferior taste.

    Indigo Blue Berry was a disappointment, producing very few tomatoes with poor taste.

    Sungreen (one of the Sungold family) was a disaster. Most of the fruit split long before it eventually ripened. I binned my two plants a couple of weeks ago!

    Every year I grow Koralik (outdoor bush) seedlings, which I give to friends who do not have greenhouses. Koralik is one of the nicest outdoor cherry toms I have tasted.

    Rapunzel and Tropical Ruby will be my greenhouse trial varieties next year.

    Thank you Nick for the hints and tips you give in your fascinating newsletter, which contribute greatly to my enjoyment of growing tomatoes.


    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rob, Thanks for such a detailed review of some lesser known varieties – there’s a few here for next season for sure!

  7. Sharon
    | Reply

    First time growing Japanese Black Trifele was a lovely surprise. Not a very large tomato but a wonderful texture, sweet and delicious.
    I agree with you, Nick, about Indigo Rose. Pretty to look at with it’s black stems and all but tasteless.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Sharon, another good variety for next season!

  8. Sue Heyer
    | Reply

    I can heartily recommend the variety Berner Rose (aka Rose de Berne), just sorry I didn’t plant them years ago. They are excellent for cooler climates (I live in Switzerland), can be grown in- or outdoors with thin skins, fleshy with very few seeds. Some may have seen Monty Don presenting them on yesterday’s Gardeners World. Will definitely grow them again next year.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Sue, I haven’t even heard of that variety but I’m pleased you mentioned it – I’ll have a go next season!

  9. Alex
    | Reply

    Try a cherry variety called Rosella they look a terrible colour but they are delicious, best cherry variety I have tasted and they are a fantastic cropper easily 60 fruits per truss

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Alex, Rosella is a very good choice for next season!

  10. Valerie
    | Reply

    My consistently tasty and reliable tomato is a nameless Black Cherry , known by Members of Vertical Veg as Mark’s Black Cherry! Sorry ! You will have to ask Mark where it came from.I have grown it for the last few years in my greenhouse where it rambles skyward and outside.Last year I did not stop it and it went on yielding until late October.I then ripened the remainder indoors.This year because of lack of sun it has been late ripening but I have picked.I also grow a couple of regulars,Gardener’s Delight,Moneymaker and Golden Sunrise,all from saved seeds.I live in Wiltshire.
    My cucumbers have been extraordinary this year,picking daily from one plant!


    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Valerie, cucumbers prefer more humidity than tomatoes – so they have been in their element this season!

  11. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Maskotka and Red Alert gave great cherries from late June to the end of July – a real boon when all others are still maturing. And when you have too many, they make great soup and ketchup!

    Super Marmande and Black Russian have both been early, great and large this year, starting to crop mid July from a 10th March showing. They have created great soups and pasta sauces.

    Sungold and Black Cherry have given regular fruit from early August with no sign of stopping before late September, both being as juicy as ever. I like Black Cherry for its slow and steady yield over 2-3 months – perfect as a tomato for side salads.

    Tigerella and Alicante are their usual reliable selves.

    Disappointments: San Marzano very susceptible to BER in a rhizopot – a very vigorous strain that will easily produce 7 trusses outdoors, but both plants lost over 75% of fruit set. Black Krim also lost a significant amount but we will still get an average harvest.

    Anyone able to make their own seeds on 22nd August – this is the day of choice this year for biodynamic growers. I have done it three times and seeds are always very vigorous and remain vigorous for at least three years.

    One thing I will say is that saving your own seeds seems to see you select for tomato plants which grow well, quickly and vigorously in pots outdoors. My Super Marmande and Black Russian in particular now belie difficulties of growing beefsteaks outdoors. Yes I am probably improving as a grower, yes the SE is probably warmer and drier than elsewhere, but the tangible benefits of making your own tomato seed far outweigh the hassles of doing so.

    My other challenge now is to try and source/create some moulds to hold 30cm pots, so that wind does not blow them over. Every year some wind comes to blow plants over, every year a few fruit are lost breaking off when still green. Come to that, my Sungolds were blown out of the Quadgrow, a right pain in the backside….

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys, a great selection of varieties as usual. We always seem to get a day or two of windy conditions each summer – my polytunnel reacts like a kite and it’s difficult to keep it in my garden!

  12. Jess Allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    My apologies, ’twas I who swapped you a few Indigo Rose seeds for something else LOL! We live and learn. Gave the rest to someone who was desperate to try them because of all the hype when IR were introduced and despite my experience with them.
    This year my earliest were Red Alert, even before Sun Gold. For some reason my Tumblers and Red Alert were definitely not as tasty as they should be, just OK. It must be the lack of sun. Dreadful up here. Not sure whether opening all the windows and vents is clearing the condensation or letting the driving rain in most days.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jess,
      The lack of sun has had an effect on the taste of my toms too. I know of others who have had the same experience with Indigo Rose, so it wasn’t only your seeds that were to blame.
      It is sometimes a choice between condensation or rain – what a choice!

  13. Anthony Noblet
    | Reply

    I’m growing Black Russian largest tomato no sign of ripening!
    Also golden crown from Seedspring seeds is good and ripening despite the weather
    Both in greenhouse

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Anthony, haven’t yet tried Golden Crown but will be on my list for next season.

  14. Catriona Ferris
    | Reply

    Oops, forgot to mention: growing in greenhouse in rural Ayrshire!

  15. Catriona Ferris
    | Reply

    My best tasting cherry tomato for the second year running is Sakura. I love the long elegant vines & (touch wood) it seems to be a little more disease resistant than the others.

    Poor crop this year from Garden Pearl – too much greenery & late to flower/set so the plants have all but succumbed to grey mould long before the majority of the fruits can ripen.

    On the flip side, my cucumbers have been EPIC this year & are still going strong!!

    • Jess Allaway
      | Reply

      I’m about 150 miles north of you in north Argyll and two mini cucumber plants just about snowing us under with cukes! Never seen anything grow so fast. Unfortunately not too many recipes available for cucumbers that I can find.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      I’ve been meaning to grow Sakura for a few seasons now – will definately try them next season.

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