Tomato plants mainly come in tall (indeterminate/cordon) and bush varieties (determinate) but there is another type called semi-determinate tomato varieties.
The semi-determinate plant grows into a larger bush than normal and displays some of the characteristics of both tall and bush types.
Here is a picture (above) of the semi-determinate tomato Lizzano F1. It grows like a bush variety but produces its tomatoes on trusses (below) like a tall variety. Bush varieties usually produce their tomatoes in clusters, like bunches of grapes.
One of the benefits of Lizzano F1 is that it is blight resistant. If we get a lot of rain later in the season, the tomatoes will be unaffected.
One disadvantage with bush varieties is that they harvest over a much shorter period than tall varieties
However, semi-determinate varieties like Lizzano, have a longer harvest period than the average bush variety, so they can produce throughout the entire British summer – June through August, and into September (outdoors).
Tall, indeterminate varieties such as Gardener’s Delight, produce their tomatoes on trusses, gradually, over an entire season.
Tall varieties will keep growing until they are stopped by either pinching out or autumn temperatures. Bush varieties produce tomatoes that mature within a shorter period. So with bush varieties, you can end up with a lot of tomatoes mid-summer and have none towards the end of the season.
Aiming for a regular supply throughout the summer
Having a lot of tomatoes has never been a problem for me 🙂 but if you want a regular supply throughout the summer, it’s a good idea to mix up the varieties you grow and have determinate (bush), indeterminate (tall) and maybe a semi-determinate too!
If you grow outside, blight free varieties are now available in all three types. These include:
- Summerlast – small bush
- Lizzano F1 – semi-determinate/bush
- Crimson Cherry F1 – tall cherry
- Mountain Magic F1 – tall cherry
- Crimson Crush – tall medium/large
- Crimson Beefsteak – tall large beefsteak
Not all of the above are available to buy as seeds – some are only available as plug plants. Hopefully seeds will be available over the next few seasons.
Other semi-determinate tomato varieties include: Marmande and Roma. These are often described as semi-bush types – another way of saying semi-determinate.
Semi-determinate tomato varieties usually grow to about 3 or 4 feet and require support.
If there is one thing that can spoil a holiday, apart from the weather, it’s worrying about watering the tomatoes! If you don’t have a friendly neighbour who can water your tomatoes while you are away, here are a few tips below.
Watering system – solar powered
Given the amount of sun we are having at the moment in the UK, here is a topical way to water our toms – by using solar power.
Could be a very good item to have, especially when away, it is weather responsive too!
Taps and tubing
Watering systems work well but they can be difficult to set up – the tubing and drippers can be rather fiddly. Getting the right amount of water to each plant, not to mention the possibility of battery failure in the watering timer is a concern! The Kingfisher and the Hozelock are ones I’ve used and have been reliable.
Using a standard hosepipe placed around the garden on a water timer, then running the drippers off of it, is a good option for those with a lot of plants in containers.
If you are planting directly in the ground, a porous pipe is a good option. This is ideal for those who grow in greenhouse soil and have a lot of plants. I’ve seen greenhouses in the Vale of Evesham with hundreds of plants use this method with great success.
I hope you and your tomatoes stay cool in this hot spell we’re having in the UK!