Last Newsletter Of The Season

It has been a mixed season around the UK.

If you grow outside and have managed to avoid blight, then you’ve probably had a good season.

However, August has been wetter than usual and If you’ve been in a particularly wet area, as I have, then your outside plants have more than likely been affected with blight.

Blight and BER
Avoiding Blight and Blossom End Rot are perhaps the two biggest issues when growing outside in the UK.

The ways to avoid blight are … grow under cover or grow Crimson Crush, Mountain Magic or Lizzano.

Avoiding Blossom End Rot is a bit more difficult. A reservoir system such as the Quadgrow Planter will give your plants the best possible chance with water available 24/7. Plum varieties and large varieties are more vulnerable to BER because they have more flesh to make, requiring calcium, inside the tomato.

Note to self – grow Brandy Boy under cover next season!

Greenhouse, Polytunnel and Lean To
Growing under cover in a polytunnel or greenhouse will always produce good results. If you don’t own a either, a polytunnel is the least expensive option and a lean to shelter is very good if you have a wall or a strong fence to attach it to.

Good for a few plants – needs a wall or fence for support.

A lean to may only have room for three or four plants but you can grow a lot of tomatoes from just a few well grown, disease free plants!

The main issue with this and smaller greenhouses is stability in a strong wind – so they are best fixed to a solid structure.

Inside or Outside
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to grow tomato plants in greenhouses and polytunnels but there is something rather special about growing outside. Some say that tomatoes develop more flavour when grown outside – I’m not sure how true that is, but plants definitely have to work harder and build up more resistance against the tougher conditions.

Open Polytunnel
One very successful set up I’ve used is a polytunnel open at both ends. Doors can be difficult to fix in polythene which tears easily but you can easily add a cover to the loops with very strong bulldog clips.

The advantage with such great air flow is lower humidity and plants that are able to transpire well – release moisture through their leaves which allows a good uptake of nutrients. Growing in a greenhouse presents a different list of issues and challenges to overcome!

Saving seeds for next season
Many of us like to see how early we can produce our first ripe tomato each season. The totally obsessed, like me and quite a few others reading this newsletter, will have ripe cherry tomatoes on the table around mid June in a good season – the larger toms ripen later. The most vigorous seeds make the fastest growing plants and are the seeds taken from last season.

Saving seeds from open pollinated varieties
Of course if you want seeds to grow true to type, you should save them from open pollinated varieties. When seeds from F1 hybrid tomatoes are saved and sown the following season, you never know what shape, size or flavour you’ll get!

If you are not sure whether the variety you are growing is open pollinated, a quick search online should soon tell you. Also, F1 seeds are a lot more expensive – some F1 seeds can cost around 50p each … you would certainly want those to germinate!

Over the years, some varieties have been wrongly described. I once saw a packet with Red Alert F1 on the label, another with Black Cherry F1 and there was some confusion when Crimson Crush first came on the the market – it was available only as a pot plant. Just to confirm that Crimson Crush is an F1 hybrid.

A few seed saving tips
A quick browse around the internet will produce conflicting information regarding how long seeds should ferment for. I like to ferment mine, keeping them in a glass container, for around five to seven days then use a tea strainer before setting them out on coffee filter paper.

The filter paper doesn’t stick to the seeds like kitchen roll but still absorbs moisture well. Let the seeds dry for about four or five days before puting them into a suitable container. I use glassine envelopes – the kind stamp collectors use. However, if you use an airtight container, you will need to make sure that the seeds are thoroughly dry, otherwise they may release moisture and rot.

Keep them in a cool dry place.

I thought I would leave you with a nice image!

That’s it for this season – I hope your plants are still producing and your kitchen is full of tomatoes!

Let’s hope we all have a great season in 2018.

Regards,

Nick

Quadrow Planter – Get 10% Off by entering WGNEW at checkout!

Crimson Crush Seeds – be blight resistant next season!

40 Responses

  1. Ted Devlin
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    Many thanks indeed for your very informative series of advice. Much appreciated!
    I am very interested in the quadgrow planter for next seasons tomatoes but am hesitant.(very convincing reviews).
    How does one strip of matting up one side of the rootball circulate moisture around the entire plant and around the opposite side of the plant?
    Many thanks indeed,
    Kind Regards,
    Ted.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Ted, The capillary matting, that takes the water up to the roots, is a bit like a triangle in shape with the wide side positioned in the middle of the root ball when the pot is filled. Eventually, roots grow down into the reservoir, so when fruiting, plants are able to absorb plenty of water.
      Hope that helps!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  2. Robert Smith
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, so much to say and so little time to say it eh. not only do I enjoy and value your highly instructive newsletters but it is also so very interesting to read the many and varied comments from the fellow tomato growers, I feel as if I belong to a fairly exclusive club. Sorry I am that this is your last publication of the season. Like many of your supporters I have also had a good season with lots of fruit, particularly Black Cherries, slightly disappointed with Sun Baby and Mini Plum they will be scored off the list for next year. The days are so short now, dark so early and with my bush toms. now in the recycling bin and the cordons looking somewhat bare and forlorn with only a handful of fruit left hanging doggedly on it really does seem to have been a short season.
    Anyway I am rabbiting on, I want you to know how much I have appreciated all that you have done and say a very big thank you for all the information you have given us, it has certainly been most helpful.
    All the very best to you and yours and I hope it won’t be too long before we are sitting in front of the lap top once again and looking forward to your weekly news letters.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Robert, Many thanks for the encouraging words and I’m very pleased that you find the Newsletter helpful.
      Let’s hope we have a great 2018 season!

  3. Don Stedman
    | Reply

    Thanks Nick
    Many thanks for the season looking forward to the next one roll on the spring.
    Don

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Don, Me too – I can’t wait to start sowing seeds again – roll on the spring!

  4. Rachel Fraser
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    Thank you for all the useful help and information it’s much appreciated. I save seed every year too and the plants are great. My favourites to grow are yellow tumbling toms and piccolo (which were originally grown from seeds from shop bought tomatoes) One question I’d like to ask is if you have any suggestions for avoiding splitting? It happens to the tumblers but only after picking! Strange! They don’t split on the plant. I use a reservoir system in my greenhouse in Scotland so watering is consistent and I feed regularly with tomorite. They taste delicious and it’s not a major problem as I usually eat them straight away! I just wondered if you or anyone had any suggestions for next year. Thank you again. Enjoy the rest of your tomatoes! Rachel

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rachel,
      Sometimes a temperature change will split the skins – the skin contracts or the inside expands and the toms split.
      If you pick them before they become fully ripe, that may stop them splitting after being picked.
      Yellow TT’s and Piccolo are great tasters!

  5. Peter Goulding
    | Reply

    Thanks Nick I have used the Quadgrow system in the greenhouse and have had a great growing season. I grew Alicante, Gardeners delight, Sungold, Black Cherry, Ailsa Craig , Moneymaker, Grand Marmande and Vilma.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Peter, that’s a great selection!

  6. Trevor Johnson
    | Reply

    Thanks Nick for all your advice over the years
    I grow mainly Tumbling Tom both red and yellow and Tumbler – I am then able to pass a fruiting plant on to my children and grandchildren so they can enjoy them as well.
    We had a fantastic year – too many in fact so the surplus has been cooked and frozen for later use.
    Once again, many thanks
    Trevor

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Trevor, I’m pleased you’ve had such a successful year and the knowledge is being handed down!

  7. Mel Larkins
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, Thanks again for sharing your knowledge…much appreciated.
    Mel

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mel, you are welcome, I’m pleased you have found the Newsletter helpful.

  8. Jan Garbett
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for another season of enjoyment in our favourite pastime. Can’t wait for 2018. I’ve decided to go ahead and save some “Shirley” seeds having done it successfully before. This season, I experienced blight on “Harbinger “….. 1st time ever. So I have noted your suggestion for Crimson Crush, Mountain Magic or Lizzano.
    Regards Jan London

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jan, I think that the blight resistant varieties are the way to go – have a great season in 2018!

  9. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    Like everyone here thank you for another season of good advice. Where did it go? – seems like only a couple of months ago I was sowing seeds! I am praying for a good sunny September as it has been a pretty sunless summer up here and I have masses of fruit still to ripen.
    Do hope you will return next year – like William below, always look forward to Saturday morning’s news letter.
    Best regards.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks for your kind words – let’s hope we have a sunny September and a great season next year!

  10. Valerie
    | Reply

    Nick,Thank you so much for all your help.Once again I have a good crop from saved seeds.Next year I shall be growing in my granddaughter’s garden as I am selling my house and garden and moving into a flat so will be growing outside.A new challenge .
    Best wishes.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Valerie, I’m sure your granddaughter will appreciate all the tips and advice you will be able to pass on. Good luck with the move and hope you will be very happy in your new home.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

  11. Tony Manickam
    | Reply

    Hi Nick – thank you very much for all your news letters which have provided a wealth of information for all of us . I am a relative newbie (3yrs) and I still feel great excitement when my plants start to flower and a great sense of achievement when those first red tomatoes appear.
    Although late to ripen this year, I now have an abundance of tomatoes which both my family and neighbours are all enjoying.
    I look forward to next seasons news letters.
    Kind Regards
    Tony

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Tony, the thrill is still there for me too – my favourite part of the season is watching the seedlings germinate!

  12. Laura
    | Reply

    Thank you Nick for your information because having followed your advice on the necessity of aeration around the roots ,and feeding methods It’s looking like I will have the best crop ever .Almost every year we have blight so I have concentrated on Tumbler ,Tumbling Tom and Lizzano because I find they don’t seem to be affected .They are mostly in baskets but have grown really well.I hope we have more sun in September to ripen the crop on the vines !

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Laura, I’m pleased that you have found the Newsletter helpful – lets hope we have a sunny September!

  13. michael Johnson
    | Reply

    I was never convinced that (Crimson Crush) was an F1 Hybrid, I have grown own saved seeds for this variety, together with a friend in the USA and both of us confirm -after three years of trials growing them every year from home saved seeds, that the resulting tomatoes and plants remain just the same as the original is, in fact if anything they are bigger and better, still retaining blight resistance, no problem.
    I have been growing tomatoes now for almost fifty years of experience , and crimson crush is a certain winner that’s for sure, I am convinced that the F1 hybrid claim by Sutton’s is just a ploy by them in order to sell their seed.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Michael, that’s a valuable piece of advice!

  14. Rob
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Thank you very much for your guidance and advice over the years. You have helped make 2017 an exceptional year for my greenhouse tomatoes.

    I always look forward to your newsletters and hope you will want to write one again in 2018.

    Cheers,

    Rob

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Cheers Rob, I’m pleased you’ve had such a good season for your greenhouse tomatoes!

  15. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Thanks Nick for interesting and useful information over the growing season I have had a good one going to try seed saving now bye for now regards Mick West

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mick, I’m pleased you’ve found the Newsletter helpful – good luck with the seed saving!

  16. Lesley
    | Reply

    Thank You very much Nick for all your very useful advice and tips this season

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Lesley, you are welcome!

  17. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hello Nick
    You really are my ‘go to’ expert when planting and growing tomatoes.
    I have a small garden patch and get good value from your tips.
    Good luck for the rest of the year and,again, many thanks.
    Regards,
    Frank (in Dublin)

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Frank, good luck to you too, let’s hope next season is a good one!

  18. Anthony Noblet
    | Reply

    Nick
    Thanks for all your help and guidance this season
    I have just bought 2 Quadgrow for next year
    Best wishes
    Anthony

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Anthony, the Quadgrow is the way to go!

  19. Mark Mattocks
    | Reply

    Thanks Nick for you fantastic output, tips, advice, have learnt so much over the last few years. This year I had to grow outdoors, I bought quadgows, brilliant, never had so many uniform tomatoes, and loaded trusses. I grew 12 plants, Olirose and a bush variety called Buissonante, did not have one tom with BER, but they all succumbed to blight the whole lot. Must get new greenhouse for next season. Thanks Nick, see you next year

    Mark from Isle of Wight

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark, sorry to hear your outside plants succumbed to blight – I know the feeling well. A greenhouse will certainly improve things a lot!

  20. william forsyth
    | Reply

    sorry nick this is the last one,i look forward to it every Saturday, oh well roll on next year and we will do it again all the best.
    willie

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Thanks Willie, let’s hope we have a good season next year – all the best to you too!

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